THUNDER BAY – Today, a conference on restorative practices brought together community leaders from education, enforcement, health, justice and youth services. Participants learned about what it means to be restorative and how to build a positive culture in our schools and communities. The conference was presented by the Restorative Practices Working Group in partnership with the Drug Awareness Committee of Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council and Lakehead Public Schools.
Restorative practices have been gaining prominence around the globe as a way to repair relationships when harm is done and strengthen communities.
Efforts often begin at the level of school communities “as a way to enhance safe and supportive environments for children and youth” says Lori Carson, co-chair of the Restorative Practices Working Group. Using restorative approaches to keep students connected to school is one of the priority actions of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy.
The keynote speaker at On the Path to a Restorative Community was Mark Finnis from the Hull Centre for Restorative Practice in Hull, UK. Hull is on the way to becoming the world’s first Restorative City. Finnis said, “This restorative framework allows us to work with children, families and the community and provides the ‘glue’ that binds together agencies in a common approach and language.”
Conference participants also heard from presenters close to home who are engaged in restorative approaches and building on the good work being done in our region.
- Anna Gibbon, City of Thunder Bay Aboriginal Liaison Officer spoke about the history of Justice Circles in our region;
- Anne McCoy from the Ontario Provincial Police shared promising partnerships that link police with schools in restorative ways;
- Al Wray and Eleanor Skead from Keewatin-Patricia School Board talked about how the implementation of restorative practices can honour Aboriginal traditions;
- Charlie Bishop and Michelle Probizanksi from Lakehead Public Schools introduced a school-based model that integrates restorative practices with strength-based approaches.
The Restorative Practices Working Group was established in August 2011 to promote restorative practices in Thunder Bay and region. Coalition members come from various sectors and share a common interest in using the principles of restorative practices to empower schools and communities.