Sandra Hawkins the co-facilitator of the Williams Lake Community Council for Restorative Justice. (Photo by Patrick Davies)

Sandra Hawkins the co-facilitator of the Williams Lake Community Council for Restorative Justice. (Photo by Patrick Davies)

Dozen lakecity locals train in restorative justice last weekend

Restorative justice continues to offer a community-based approach to addressing crime.

Restorative justice continues to offer a community based and minded approach to addressing the impacts of crime for both the victims and the perpetrators.

Established to bring community healing to the lakecity, the Williams Lake Community Council for Restorative Justice originated from the local RCMP’s community justice forums. Based on the Family Circles traditionally held by the Maori people of New Zealand, restorative justice takes the form of forums designed to maximize justice while promoting community healing.

On Saturday, Nov. 17 a dozen lakecity locals, new and old to the program, gathered at the Pioneer Complex for a workshop on how to host and implement these forums. Known as facilitators, these volunteer members of the community are integral in ensuring that the forums that bring the offender, the victims, their respective supporters and the RCMP go smoothly.

Co-facilitator of the council Sandra Hawkins, a long time member of the organization since 1998, said that they primarily handle cases directly from the RCMP and the Crown. These cases can include shoplifting, auto theft, vandalism, drug use and assault with offenders recommended based on the belief restorative justice will have a greater impact on the individual than traditional jail time.

Instead of going through the court system and people ending up with criminal records we try to resolve what the problem is, who the offender is, who has been affected and how can we make this right?” Hawkins said. “It’s very much a community process.”

An advantage they have when taking on cases is that the council’s facilitators often have more time to decide the appropriate action than judges are afforded in court. Sometimes, Hawkins said, they have found the offender will be a victim too as they discover what circumstances brought them to commit the crime.

From there, as far as the offender is concerned, their goal is to set them on a different path through counselling, rehab or community service as necessary.

“Basically what judges, the Crown and other people tell us is that you have a better shot at rehabilitation than we do,” Hawkins said. “Where you can especially with young offenders and First Nations People find a way other than the court system and incarceration.”

Read More: Restorative Justice program success continues

Despite this, however, Hawkins has observed a more restorative justice approach in traditional justice and law enforcement, as her own organization originated from and is still closely partnered with the RCMP.

When it comes to the victims of the crime the goal is healing and understanding. Hawkins said that first and foremost they want them to feel safe again in the community and to help them understand why the offender did what they did.

Taking all this into account, for prospective facilitators like the ones she was training earlier this month, Hawkins said preparation beforehand is integral for ensuring the success of these circles. Oftentimes, she and other facilitators will spend extensive time conducting research and interviews, while preparing participants for what will happen and will be expected of them.

All of this is to ensure that, when the forum occurs, the problem is already on its way to being resolved, rather than only being addressed at that moment.

“We know, going into it, we can’t solve this person’s and the communities’ problems just ‘Bang!’ but we’ve had some pretty good results and people understanding that we’re here to help you and what is it you need, so you stop offending?” Hawkins said.

After the forum or forums depending on the case, the facilitator will then, at a resolution conference, with the help of all involved parties, decide upon the appropriate course of action. This might be connecting the offender with the tools to change their behaviour, compensation for the victim and or consequences for the offender.

No matter the decision, it’s key that all parties present agree to and support the disposition. After the sanctions are completed, the case will be reviewed to see if its intended purpose has been met.

According to Hawkins, the organization currently handles an average of 60 cases a year with roughly 54 members of the community involved as facilitators, advisors and support roles. One of these advisors is RCMP Inspector Jeff Pelley, who was on hand to award certificates to those who completed the training.

Of the dozen or so people who came to this past training session, 100 per cent showed an interest in continuing on to become mentored by experienced facilitators according to Hawkins. Should they move forward they would join the 40 facilitators working in Williams Lake to bring restorative justice to victims and offenders.

“It’s really to bring the community together, to keep offenders from re-offending, to help victims feel that they have had justice and that they don’t need to be afraid anymore, Hawkins said.

For more information on restorative justice and what it offers the community, contact the Manager of Community Policing at 250-392-8701.

Read More: Conference highlights need for restorative justice

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Lakecity locals of all ages and from all walks of life posing with their restorative justice certificates outside pioneer complex with RCMP Inspector Jeff Pelley. (Photo by David Dickson)

Lakecity locals of all ages and from all walks of life posing with their restorative justice certificates outside pioneer complex with RCMP Inspector Jeff Pelley. (Photo by David Dickson)

Just Posted

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)
Interior Health notes 80 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

108 people in the region have died from the virus

The Fraser River is seen west of Williams Lake from Doc English Bluff Ecological Reserve. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Tsilhqot’in National Government appeals Gibraltar Mines’ permit to discharge into Fraser River

Permit amendments fail to adequately protect the environment and human health, says TNG

The Horsefly Community Hall will be the site of a mobile vaccine clinic March 19, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Six COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open in Cariboo Chilcotin

100 Mile, Alexis Creek, Big Lake, Horsefly, Williams Lake and Tatla Lake

A Williams Lake area family living on Knife Creek Road lost everything to a house fire on Wednesday, March 3. (Photo submitted)
House fire destroys rural family home south of Williams Lake

The Macdonalds built their home on Knife Creek Road about 30 years ago

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Public input sought for B.C.’s police act review

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complaints about that condo

Most Read