This week in Swift Current, there is a theme of forgiveness and betterment with Restorative Justice Week.
Officially proclaimed in Swift Current by city council for November 20 to 26, Restorative Justice Week is officially about recognizing the work done by the folks involved with the Salvation Armies Restorative Justice Program.
Helping to run the program, Pamela Hamlin was eager to share details about the positive work they do in the community for both victims and offenders.
"Participants have the opportunity to become active players in developing an acceptable resolution to difficult situations," described Hamelin. "Restorative Justice Programs such as ours provide a path for victims and offenders to achieve healing, reconciliation, and understanding. It is a path to creating healthier and safer communities, one conversation at a time."
Hamelin and others with the program will work together with RCMP and counsellors to find ways to bridge the differences between involved parties on a case-by-case basis.
One such example she brought to city council, relaying the importance of their work, was of a father and a son caught in a dispute.
"This is a story that happened in the center of COVID, probably late 2020-2021," said Hamelin, setting the scene. "So the dad in this story finds himself out of work. Money is tight, stress is high. The marriage is tense and the whole family struggling."
One day after school, the father is seen by a neighbour to be arguing with his 11-year-old son in the driveway. At this point, the father is seen pushing his son during the disagreement, sending him into the parked vehicle in the driveway.
The concerned neighbour called the RCMP, which ultimately resulted in the father having to leave the home under a no-contact order.
"Alternative measures with our Restorative Justice Program is assigned the file, and after long talks with all of the parties involved, including the RCMP and Social Services staff, we sit down with the family," Hamelin said. "The dad is extremely remorseful. He cries as he apologizes to his son. The mum explains the incident is extremely out of character for her husband, but he's an emotional wreck right now. The meeting is a circle of sharing and raw emotions I won't soon forget."
Eventually, they reach a solution after the father and his family undergo some therapy, where he takes it upon himself to take a look in the mirror and reflect on his anger, seeking to better make amends with his son.
The child missed his father, and it was part of the agreement going forward that they would have extra "dude time" to make up for the time they had missed.
"At the end of this, the dad told me that our program has changed his entire life, his family, and him," told Hamelin. "This story may have ended much differently had it not been referred to alternative measures. This is restorative justice."
Rather than pursuing persecution, it's resolution and understanding that are the path forward under restorative justice. This week seeks to honour those efforts.