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Relationships First

Funding will support restorative justice program

Campus and Community

The provincial government is providing $600,000 for a restorative justice program based in the Faculty of Education at Memorial.

On May 26, Justice Minister John Hogan, and Tom Osborne, minister of Education, announced the funding for the project led by Relationships First: Restorative Justice Education Consortium-NL. The program, chaired by Dr. Dorothy Vaandering of the Faculty of Education and Dr. Rose Ricciardelli of the Marine Institute, aims to nurture and support relational organizational cultures where children, youth, and adults alike thrive.

Justice and community

The funding, provided by Justice and Public Safety, will go toward hiring two restorative justice coordinators, one for justice and community, and one for education, both of whom will work to infuse Indigenous leadership of restorative justice into all facets of society.

The restorative justice movement is deeply rooted in teachings and traditions of Indigenous peoples of North America and beyond. Restorative justice aims to support the development of relational communities so that when harm occurs, people are readily re-integrated within those communities.

Harm reduction

Dr. Dorothy Vaandering said relationships and interconnectedness are at the heart of restorative justice.

“When these break down, everyone and everything is impacted,” she said. “We are grateful for funding that will allow us to collectively rediscover that before harm can be addressed, we need to understand how it came to be.

“Leaders and elders from the Mi’kmaq, Innu, and Inuit communities understand this at their core. With their invaluable guidance, we are excited that Relationships First will be working together with so many to amplify the principles and practices of restorative justice for the well-being of everyone in this province.”

Seeking alternatives

Minister Hogan said the province recognizes its role in restorative justice and are pleased to offer funding to this group to continue their important work.

“As a government, we must always be seeking alternatives to the established way of dealing with societal issues, including justice reforms,” said Minister Hogan. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with this group to advance a restorative approach in our justice system.”


Restorative justice is something the province is looking to expand more into our K-12 school system, said Minister Osborne.

“The Department of Education’s current mandate includes working with the expertise established at Memorial University to enhance teacher training in restorative justice principles and work to implement these principles into all our province’s schools,” he said. “I am very much looking forward to the guidance this group will provide ensuring our policies, procedures and programming reflect a restorative justice lens.”

“The Faculty of Education is proud to be an active part of this initiative and celebrates with Dr. Vaandering on this funding announcement,” said Dr. Gerald Galway, dean of the Faculty of Education.

Indigenous communities

Lisa Dempster, provincial minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation and the minister responsible for Labrador Affairs, said the restorative justice movement has roots in Indigenous peacemaking.

“Therefore, I am pleased to see the consortium intends to collaborate with Indigenous communities and seek the wisdom of elders with respect to restorative justice,” she said. “Reconciliation is complex and Relationships First is discovering a bridging role toward Reconciliation. It’s our hope that harms may be healed and replaced with harmony.”

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