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What is a Community Justice Committee?

A Community Justice Committee is an independent body composed of community members, it exists to improve judicial outcomes and community safety for all people in the community. It assists in the administration of justice at the community level, by helping youth and adult offenders take responsibility for their actions and repair harm, and reducing crime and victimization.

A Justice Committee is recognized by the community’s leadership as an independent entity without a political purpose, with responsibilities set out by resolution and also a guide on the operation of committees. It has also enters into an agreement with the crown prosecutor in the judicial district for the diversion of criminal cases.

Justice Committees are designed to complement the criminal justice system by incorporating a Cree values and approaches in the process. For some criminal acts, traditional justice system approaches are best handled at the community level to address all aspects of the act, and those affected. Sometimes, the intervention of the judicial system alone does not end conflict. The justice committees further prepare Gladue Reports and develop some local programming for clients who may come in contact with the justice system.

 

A “restorative” alternative

Justice Committees provide an alternative mechanism to address criminal activities, anti-social conduct and serious or persistent law infractions. In contrast to the traditional, punishment-based criminal justice system, Justice Committees tend to focus on more “restorative” approaches that view crime and harm as violations of people and relationships.

The Justice Committee therefore works according to the premise that crime and conflict inflict harm and that individuals must accept responsibility for repairing that harm and be directly accountable to the people they violated. How we deal with conflict can help us learn and grow, and for those involved, including the victim, offender and other stakeholders, to have their voices heard, their needs addressed and their solutions considered.

Viewed this way, a Justice Committee is about much more than “justice” in the traditional sense of the “administration and procedure of law”. Justice Committees add healing, equity and peacemaking, and can improve community safety and harmony for all Cree people.

 

Present in each community

Each of the nine Cree communities has its own Justice Committee. These groups of volunteers are tasked with such things as mobilizing the community in regards to justice issues, addressing cases through a restorative justice process and implementing crime prevention and reduction programs.

In addition, the Department has Community Justice Officers (CJOs) in all communities, to provide general support to Community Justice Committees.