Restorative Practices in Grand Erie
Restorative practice is a way of thinking and being that commits to building healthy, positive relationships in the learning, working and living environment. A restorative approach seeks to centre the individuals who have been most impacted by an event. Through a facilitated process of sharing stories and feelings, the purpose of a restorative intervention is to make amends through taking personal responsibility and making commitments toward repairing the harm that has been caused. In the school community, students, parents, staff and community members may have a role to play in a restorative meeting.
The roots of restorative practices and restorative justice stem from the cultural teachings and traditions of Indigenous peoples across the globe. Here in Grand Erie, which is located on the territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe people, we continue to learn about the Indigenous ways of knowing and how to apply those teachings to our understanding of resolving conflicts between people.
Restorative meetings between students can be facilitated by trained staff, where there is openness and willingness to engage in this intervention and support from parents and guardians. Circle meetings in classroom settings can also be an example of how to build community within a group of students.
Restorative meetings can be a powerful way to give voice to those who have been harmed, hold people accountable for their harmful actions, and provides a way for all who are involved to participate in the process of healing and repairing relationships.
In Grand Erie, many of the Administrators and support staff have been trained in this approach. The Safe and Inclusive Schools team of Grand Erie continue to promote the ongoing learning and implementation of restorative practices in schools, as an alternative to discipline. Additionally, restorative practices ensure that student’s voices are heard, and that solutions are based on what people identify as their needs as they move toward repairing and reimagining relationships. The role of the adults is to not only support these restorative conversations, but to also help students hold to their commitments as they move forward in their journey.