Have you been the victim of a crime but are hesitant to pursue legal action? Restorative justice offers options other than the criminal justice system to repair the harm you have suffered. You can choose to participate when it’s convenient for you. Restorative justice does not prevent you from using the traditional system if you want to.
You can participate at your convenience
Since each victim’s experience is different, restorative justice is designed to be flexible and responsive. Some victims need time to fully understand what has happened to them.
You do not have to speak to the police to participate in a restorative justice process. It can happen without the offender being charged with a crime. For example, restorative justice measures are available:
- Before reporting to the police or if you do not wish to report.
- After reporting to the police or during court proceedings.
- After a criminal prosecution, for example, when the offender is in jail or has completed his or her sentence.
You may be invited to participate in a restorative justice process
In some cases, you may be invited to participate in restorative justice measures that replace a criminal prosecution in court. This is the case if the offender has been arrested by the police and dealt with by an alternative measures program, such as the General Alternative Measures Program (GAMP) or the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).
Someone will contact you to inform you of the possibility of participating in a restorative justice measure (e.g. mediation) and to find out if you are interested. You should know that you are never obligated to participate. If you want to know more before you decide, you can ask questions at a Crime Victims’ Assistance Centre (CVAC).
You can consult an organization specializing in restorative justice
There are many organizations that specialize in restorative justice throughout Quebec, and you can consult them directly whether you have chosen or been invited to participate.
These organizations can give you all the information you need about the process and help you determine if it is a good option for you. Their intervention team can then accompany you through the steps you choose (e.g. face-to-face meetings).
Here are the main organizations or programs in Quebec:
- Équijustice Network: Their 23 organizations offer services in several regions of Quebec. They organize mediation and dialogue meetings between a victim and the offender responsible for the crime.
- Association des Organismes de Justice Alternative du Québec (ASSOJAQ or alternative justice organisations association) (French only): The member organizations of the ASSOJAQ offer services in several regions of Quebec. They organize mediation and dialogue meetings between a victim and the offender responsible for the crime.
- Centre de service de justice réparatrice (restorative justice service center): This organization offers services in the regions of Montreal, the Eastern Townships, Montérégie, Mauricie-Centre du Québec, Lanaudière and the Laurentians. In particular, it organizes meetings and restorative justice circles between people who have suffered or committed unrelated crimes, i.e. crimes of the same nature but not linked to the same event.
- Inidigenous justice committees: These committees provide services to Aboriginal people in communities throughout Quebec and in urban areas. They organize meetings between victims, offenders and community representatives.
- Restorative Opportunities Program: This Correctional Service of Canada program allows a victim and the federally sentenced offender responsible for the crime to participate in different mediation models. The offender must be an inmate or ex-inmate.
Consult Justice Canada’s directory of restorative justice programs to find a resotrative justice program or organization in your area.