Volunteer Terrace leader shares her experience with the restorative justice system

Tracey Davidson never thought that her love for volunteering activities would see her one day leading a volunteer organization.

When she moved to Terrace from North Vancouver in 2011, she joined Volunteer Terrace (VT) as the Volunteer Community Engagement Coordinator.

She found herself loving volunteer work more and more, and it even helped her through the grieving process when her husband passed away.

Eventually, she accepted a paid position with the organization and was soon offered the job of acting CEO.

At the time, with a background in human resources and retail management, Davidson says she had “no idea” how to operate within the nonprofit.

“Managing Volunteer Terrace is very different from managing women’s fashion at Sears,” Davidson said.

But seven years later, Davidson is still steering the ship there and is also on the board of Volunteer BC.

The organization has gradually branched out to include more programs for seniors, youth volunteers and also runs a restorative justice program where Davidson has been one of the long-term facilitators.

Davidson’s interest in restorative justice began when she was doing a project on criminology at Capilano University. She remembers visiting Prince Rupert to interview people who worked there on the Native Restoration Program.

“I went to interview the person running the program in Prince Rupert and little did I know that a few years later I would be sitting here with my own restorative justice program or our own research.

Before the restorative justice program officially came under the VT umbrella, Davidson says, “for a very long time, I did it on the side of my desk.”

Davidson has been a facilitator for over a decade now having received her facilitator and peace circle training from James ‘Jim’ Cooley, who was one of the first in Canada to be officially certified as a Forum Facilitator. of community justice. (Cooley who is Tsimshian, also served with the RCMP Terrace Detachment in 1998).

As part of restorative justice, some RCMP cases in Terrace and Kitimat are handled differently in a circle where offenders, victims, family members come together with police and facilitators for dialogue.

“When we’re talking about youth, the RCMP has a mandate to look at alternative measures first, before there are criminal charges,” she says.

Davidson gives full credit to Const Terrace RCMP Detachment. Angela Rabut for establishing the restorative justice program and bringing it to where it is today.

Case records consist of offenses such as vandalism, shoplifting, defacement or marking of property, among others.

As part of the program, they worked on cases with the RCMP, School District 82, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and others.

Davidson is a strong advocate for restorative justice programs and believes that more cases can (and should) be resolved through such processes. For one thing, she says, the recidivism rate drops dramatically.

“When people sit in a circle and are supported by family and friends, whether they’re the abuser or the victim, it can be extremely powerful,” she says.

This process, she says, comes down to that minute of understanding, when people sit in that circle, and they realize how much their actions have affected human beings emotionally and financially.

To do restorative justice is to give the victim and the offender the possibility of dialogue.

“It’s not about blaming or shaming anyone in the process…. as things evolve, you begin to feel an understanding.

The concept of restorative justice has existed in societies since ancient times, even before the establishment of formal justice systems, she explains. “That’s how crime was dealt with by the communities.”

Looking back, Davidson says the trip was extremely rewarding.

Of course, there are things she’s still learning along the way, even today, like the importance of self-care.

“You have to know how to decompress, and not take things with you when you leave the room.”

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