EFN is pleased to announce that we have received $200,000 from The Ministry of the Attorney General, Indigenous Justice Division to partner on a local restorative justice project. Restorative Justice is an alternative and holistic system of criminal justice that is focused on rehabilitation of offenders, support for at-risk Youth, and reconciliation with the community at large.
In 2010, Eabametoong First Nation declared a Medical State of Emergency due to the PDA epidemic in our region, which sought to bring attention to the urgency and scope of the problem – not only to address the issue of PDA, but also addressing the increase of arson, instances of lateral violence in the community, and mental health most specifically. The Chiefs Council called for a broader range of treatment services, like holistic healing and restorative justice initiatives, rather than simply a focus on weaning a person off of drugs (Chief’s Forum on Social Issues, 2009).
Many Youth today feel like they do not have a voice in the community. As one Youth stated in the ‘Youth Voices of EFN Report 2014’, “The only way Youth can be heard in the community is by doing something disruptive, which just gets them tossed in jail”. Additionally, according to the same report, the boredom Youth feel in the community sometimes leads them into trouble – setting fires, using drugs and alcohol, or fighting, for example. “In the summertime there were a couple of house fires because of the Youth; I think it was probably out of boredom”, (Youth, Youth Voices of EFN Report, 2014).
The Eabametoong First Nation Restorative Justice Pilot Project is a locally-planned and co-ordinated initiative that aims to benefit our Youth by administering programs that 1) address mental health and well-being; 2) offer mentorship with Elders and skills training opportunities; and 3) provide opportunities for community healing & reintegration through Circle.
A Restorative Justice Committee has been formed at the local level, and will further solidify through developing a Terms of Reference and comprehensive organizational structure. The project will start in May-June 2017 and will conclude in March 2019. For more information, please see Charlie Okeese.