In 1990, Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services Corporation (NALSC) received direction from the Chiefs of Treaty No. 9 to create and promote alternative and community-based justice systems for its members. The Restorative Justice Program was created in 1996, and it is this mandate received from the Chiefs that NALSC delivers by providing Restorative Justice to 24 of the 49 First Nation communities in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory.

What is Restorative Justice, “Maa-Mii-Nah-Chi-Ke-Win”?

Restorative Justice is a unique method of achieving alternative justice. Our Restorative Justice program uses the Circle Process and a model called “Community Accountability Conferencing” (CAC). This model is based on the tradition of involving extended families in resolving disputes and incorporates the beliefs, values, customs and practices of the community.

Goal of Restorative Justice, “Maa-Mii-Nah-Chi-Ke-Win”

The goal of Restorative Justice is to help address the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the mainstream justice system. NALSC aims to achieve this goal by working with NAN First Nations in the administration of justice affecting their community and to provide a culturally based diversion process that uses the Circle process to promote healing in the community.

The Circle Process

The Circle process is about healing.  It is not intended to be adversarial. Rather, its purpose is to create an open and safe environment in which participants can:

  1. Discuss what happened;
  2. Understand the conflict; and,
  3. Talk about how to deal with what happened.

The Circle provides an opportunity for all community members to help resolve conflict, create healthy relationships, and learn positive ways of dealing with conflict.

Benefits of Restorative Justice, "Maa-Mii-Nah-Chi-Ke-Win"

  • Focus is on harms resulting from the crime rather than the rules broken
  • Equal concern is shown to victims and offenders
  • Empowers victims and responds to their needs
  • Recognizes the offender’s obligations to repair harm
  • Supports offenders while encouraging them to understand, accept and carry out their obligations
  • Provides opportunities for dialogue – direct or indirect – between the victim and offender
  • Finds meaningful ways to involve the community, and to respond to the CAUSES of crime in the
  • community
  • The restorative justice process respects all parties

Types of Cases Covered

Restorative Justice Circles are being used for civil matters, child custody cases, neighbourhood disturbances (e.g. barking dogs, loud music), workplace disputes and harassment. In schools, Circles are being used for serious discipline problems like bullying, truancy and harassment.

For criminal matters, Circles are most commonly used as a pre-charge diversion – at the investigating officer’s discretion.

For post-charge diversions, the Crown Attorney will carefully consider all of the circumstances of the particular charge before deciding whether the offence may be referred to the Restorative Justice Program.

Pre-Charge:

  • Theft
  • Assault
  • Break and Enter
  • Breaches
  • Bullying
  • Uttering Threats

Post Charge: Less than $5000.00

  • Theft Under, S.334(b);
  • Take Motor Vehicle Without Consent, S.335 (1);
  • Break & Enter, S.348;
  • Assault, S. 266;
  • Domestic Assault
  • Mischief Under, S. 430 (4); and
  • Cause Disturbance, S. 175

It is important not to have strict policies on which cases can be referred to Restorative Justice. Each case and all its circumstances will be reviewed to determine eligibility.

Our Staff

NALSC employs two Restorative Justice Managers, a Restorative Justice Assistant, four Restorative Justice Workers, and three Youth Justice Workers to deliver on the Restorative and Youth Justice programs to the NAN communities.

Community Youth Intervention Initiative

The Community Youth Intervention Initiative works with Aboriginal youth in conflict with the law. The Community Youth Intervention Worker works closely with probation officers and operates as a linkage between youth and probation officers. The Community Youth Intervention Initiative plays an important role in the development of a local program and provides support and assistance to reintegrate youth back into the community - in a positive and meaningful way.

Learn more about this Initiative

Community Youth Justice Initiative

The intent of the program is to guide youth to a better understanding of how their behaviour affects others in the community and to make amends by giving back to the community in a meaningful way. Youth will gain a new insight into the cause and effects of their behaviour. In addition, the program may help youth to develop new skills and interests and to seek out new training opportunities.

Learn more about this Initiative