Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice (VARJ)

Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice (VARJ)

November 17, 2009 08:00 ET

Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice: Vancouver Students Apply New Approach to Conflict Through Unique Restorative Justice Program in School

Vancouver Mayor, police and justice officials join students at Windermere Secondary for news conference to mark Restorative Justice Week

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 17, 2009) - A student-led restorative justice program will be honored and highlighted by students and top city and justice officials at a news conference at 10:15 am on Tues. Nov. 17, 2009 at Windermere Secondary School at 3155 East 27 Avenue in Vancouver (google map) to mark Restorative Justice Week. Media and VIP parking is available in the lower parking lot, accessed off Lillooet Street at East 27th Avenue.

Peer Mediators from Windermere Secondary and Grenfell Elementary schools will be joined at the news conference by Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson; VPD Deputy Chief Constable Doug lePard; Judge Gurmail S. Gill, Associate Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia; criminologist Evelyn Zellerer; Windermere Principal Rob Schindel and VSB Youth and Family Worker Robert Best.

Students from Windermere Secondary will tell their stories of learning to be Peer Mediators; dealing with disputes, acts of violence, bullying and vandalism by and against their fellow students – and how they helped all parties meet face-to-face, and seek a solution to restore a sense of justice, peace and safety in the school community.

The Vancouver School Board program, run by youth worker Robert Best, provides an alternative to having troubled students face suspension or expulsion by adult school authorities. It empowers students and those involved in the disputes or harm.

Former Windermere high school student Charlie Chin was the first and only Peer Mediator at his school in 2006. Since then, the program has grown to almost 20 Peer Mediators for the current 09/10 school year. Chin says "when students get into trouble and just get suspended – they're not likely to learn a lot. The restorative justice program is run by students - not the adults. It's letting every kid know they are worthy and cared about – and can lead contributive lives."

Grade 12 student Chanel Ly is a Peer Mediator at Windermere. The 17-year-old says she has learned a lot about restorative justice since she trained in the program in Grade 11. "Both the kid who did harm, and the kid who had harm done to them get to tell their side of the story," she says. "They get to talk about their feelings that were damaged. Just being able to face the person who did harm to you – or you did harm to – is really powerful. Before I became a peer mediator, I witnessed a lot of harm – bullying and gossip – but I was just a bystander. I didn't know what to do about it. Now, I can help find a solution."

Windermere Principal Rob Schindel says the restorative program is a huge success and "is helping keep kids in the school community, empowering students to get involved in dispute resolution – and making the school a healthier, safer environment."

Restorative Justice Week is a local, provincial, national and international event. Students will be available for questions and one-on-one interviews about their experiences with restorative justice at Tuesday's news conference.

For more information: www.varj.ca.

Contact Information

  • Vancouver Association For Restorative Justice
    John de Haas
    President
    (778) 839-4480
    www.varj.ca