First Nations Justice Strategy
The First Nations Justice Strategy (FNJS) is a community-based program that provides quality, confidential support through restorative justice interventions and mediations.
Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) strives to prioritize the growth, advocacy, and support of its member First Nations. SCO seeks to redeem its rightful place in managing justice through traditional systems of governance and law. When working with our community members, SCO provides the ability to maintain peace, balance and harmony while working within the Canadian criminal justice system.
Our mandate is to reduce the overrepresentation of our community members within the criminal justice system. Our goals are to provide our community members with alternative measures for care that revolve around accountability and personal growth, rather than the current punitive measures being utilized.
As First Nation people, we carry the responsibility to care for our communities and view justice as a way to restore balance within our communities.
The FNJS has dedicated Community Justice Workers (CJWs) in six Manitoba First Nation Communities: Brokenhead, Pinaymootang, Pine Creek, Sandy Bay, Sagkeeng, and Waywayseecappo. (subject to change)
The CJW’s main emphasis is to assist all affected parties within any specific case relating to justice. This encompasses assisting and healing the individual who has done the wrong, the victim and/or family of the victim, and the rest of the community that has been affected.
The CJW’s create productive dialogue, input and participation by all parties involved, including emphasis on the victim(s) and the community.
The CJW’s assist in restoring balance and positive well being for the individual who has done the offence, the victim of the offence, and those who have been indirectly affected by the offence.
The CJW’s facilitates and maintains a Community Justice Committee (CJC). CJC members are called on for their knowledge, respect, and wisdom. CJC members are not a judge or a jury. The CJC makes every effort to understand the underlying issues that led to the wrongdoing.
The three key areas of focus for the CJW’s revolve around Prevention, Diversion and Reintegration.
Prevention focuses on grassroots intervention by working with the CJC, local Chief and Councils and key stakeholders within the community to provide support and programming geared towards traditional and cultural practices. Prevention will include working with the youth and young adults within a community to assist in their personal well-being, and creating balance in their lives. Such actions include working Elders and traditional knowledge keepers through traditional teachings and ceremony. Other mediations include preventative programming dealing with anger, substance abuse, domestic and family supports, physical health and mental health supporting programs. All other alternative programming is also considered.
The following options will be available for cases relating to Diversion:
Court: Youth and adults may participate in diversionary referrals. Cases may be referred by the Crown or a Judge.
Police: The local police detachment can refer clients to the First Nations Justice Strategy (FNJS). These referrals are usually done prior to any charges being laid, and therefore bypass the whole court system. These are called pre-charge referrals.
The Community: Probation officers and other community organizations may utilize the FNJS for mediation or other restorative processes. These kinds of referrals are particularly helpful when action needs to be taken, but the person or people harmed do not want the formality of court action.
Working closely with Federal and Provincial Correctional Institutions, the CJC and CJW’s will assist with community members who are being supervised in the community, and those who are currently incarcerated and are wishing to return to their home communities where their supports, family and livelihood were prior to becoming incarcerated. Once in the community, wrap around care will be provided through further prevention in order to reduce recidivism rates.
SCO Community Justice Staff
Community Justice Workers
Jessica Bridges - Community Justice Worker, Brokenhead Ojibway Nation
Bonnie Woodhouse - Community Justice Worker, Pinaymootang First Nation
Crystal Nepinak - Community Justice Worker, Pine Creek First Nation
Andrea Swampy - Community Justice Worker, Sagkeeng First Nation
Arnold Spence - Community Justice Worker, Sandy Bay First Nation
Lisa Makwebak - Community Justice Worker, Waywayseecappo First Nation