The director of the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Community University Research Alliance (NSRJ-CURA), which cosponsored the June 2011 IIRP World Conference, welcomes conference attendees and explains the history and focus of NSRJ-CURA.
Welcome to Halifax!
On behalf of the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Community University Research Alliance (which we affectionately refer to as the NSRJ-CURA) welcome to Halifax in the beautiful province of Nova Scotia. The NSRJ-CURA is a research alliance of community, government and university partners who have been working collaboratively for the past five years to research and consider issues related to the institutionalization of restorative justice. The alliance includes all of the community and government stakeholders in Nova Scotia together with researchers from five Canadian universities led by the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University here in Halifax. The NSRJ-CURA includes among its partners the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, the eight community justice agencies that animate the program throughout the province, the Halifax Regional Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the provincial public prosecutorial service, Nova Scotia Legal Aid, and Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network.
The NSRJ-CURA is funded primarily through a research grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The NSRJ-CURA is dedicated to building relationships and partnerships to undertake and support research on restorative justice and restorative approaches. Over the past five years we have undertaken 17 research projects focused on five broad themes related to restorative justice: institutionalization: translating principles into practice; community; diversity & equity; gender; and conceptualizing and measuring success. Over the course of the next three days we will share some of the progress and results of our research projects which cover a wide set of research questions including: how restorative justice is received into the criminal justice system, the way in which we ought to measure success, factors influencing access to and outcomes of restorative justice, the role of professionalization within restorative justice, the potential of restorative justice in response to gendered violence, the relationship between restorative and Africentric principles, due process in restorative justice, and the capacity and necessity for restorative justice to transcend governance silos. In addition, to sharing our research you are also invited to the Gala performance of the play that was created as part of the work of the NSRJ-CURA. The partners worked collaboratively to support award-winning playwright David Craig’s play “Tough Case.” The play toured junior and senior high schools in the province this spring. Through this medium the NSRJ-CURA invited engagement and reflection upon the fundamental questions of restorative justice: What does justice require and how should it be done? We hope you will join us on Wednesday night following the opening reception for the gala performance of the play.
We are fortunate to be able to explore these issues in light of the experience with the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program. The program is one of the most comprehensive and developed in the world. After a successful pilot that began in 1999, the program has been fully operational since 2001. The past 10 years has seen the program develop through a robust partnership between government and community throughout the Province. The program is accessible to young people 12 to 17 years of age at all stages of the criminal justice process. The stakeholders involved in the program have worked in a truly collaborative way to develop policy and practice in response to lessons learned. As the program begins its second decade it is poised to develop in new directions, including piloting application to adults and the development of a program within our youth correctional facility. The insights gained through the experience and success of the program thus far have prompted the development of restorative approaches beyond the criminal justice system. As you will hear during this conference the province is building upon the strength of its restorative justice program and the remarkable government and community partnership that rests at its core to develop and implement restorative approaches for education, elder abuse, community services and the protection of human rights. This is an exciting and dynamic time for restorative approaches in Nova Scotia. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to host this conference and to share our past and current experience and our hopes for the future of restorative justice and restorative approaches in Nova Scotia. We are fortunate to be partnering with the International Institute for Restorative Practices in hosting this conference. Through this partnership we have been able to realize our collective goal for this conference, and more broadly, to create an inclusive community to support the creative exchange of ideas, knowledge, experience and practice among scholars, policy maker and practitioners.
We look forward to this opportunity to share and to learn together. We hope this will be an opportunity to build new relationships and partnerships to support restorative work as we move into the future.