The OFIFC Community Justice Program is an initiative developed in response to needs expressed by Aboriginal people who have been through the courts (criminal, youth and family) and to the broad over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in the mainstream justice system. The Community Justice Program is built on the Aboriginal Court-worker Program. Community Justice Programs are developed in communities that have undergone a comprehensive needs assessment and where funding has been made available.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
The Three Fires Community Justice Program is a post charge diversion program assisting Aboriginal youth and adults in the Niagara, Fort Erie and Hamilton catchments areas. The Niagara Regional Native Centre is the administrative base of the program with satellite offices at the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre and the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre.
Traditions and Customs
The Three Fires Aboriginal Community Justice Program is based on the traditions and customs of the local Aboriginal community which emphasize reparation and healing as opposed to punishment and incarceration. Aboriginal offenders who fit the diversion criteria and accept some degree of responsibility for the charge(s) which they are facing may be diverted to the Three Fires Community Justice Program by either an Aboriginal Courtworker or program staff upon consent of the Crown Attorney responsible for their case.
Once the matter has been approved for diversion, the accused will appear before a Community Council of local Aboriginal community members for a circle. The Council Members are volunteers who have a wealth of cultural knowledge, life experiences/teachings, and/or mainstream education. The combination of these skills and experiences generate a great deal of understanding and empathy during the circle. Victims are invited to participate in the circle in a manner that is comfortable for them which may include personal attendance at the circle, sending a letter to the program and/ or the participant or submitting some form of a victim impact statement.
The circle focuses on two important characteristics: incorporating cultural practices and creating comfort and safety for the participant and/or the victim to share their personal stories. A large drum is located in the middle of the circle and all participants sit around the drum. The placement of the drum signifies that all parties surrounding the drum are equal.
Learn About Our Diversion Process
Learn about Our Programs Mission and Vision
To create a culturally significant plan of care for Aboriginal people by providing an alternative to the Non-Aboriginal legal system. We seek to guide the participant towards self empowerment and personal success, using the traditional philosophies of life.
To identify and divert Aboriginal clients from the mainstream justice system;
Provide A Forum
To provide a forum for Aboriginal people to deal with criminal and family matters in a culturally appropriate manner;
To provide meaningful and culturally appropriate outcomes for individuals and families; To address the root cause(s) of negative behaviour; and,
Stop The Cycle
To reduce recidivism.
We seek to guide the participant towards self empowerment and personal success, using the Seven Grandfather Teachings: Respect, Honesty, Truth, Bravery, Love, Humility, and Wisdom.
The goals of the Three Fires Community Justice Program are guided by the Seven Grandfather Teachings. The Seven Grandfather Teachings are said to transcend the lives of most First Nations people. This program will embrace all Nations of Aboriginal peoples with the philosophy of the Seven Grandfathers Teachings to guide our work. The program goals will be furthered through the objectives and program activities of the Three Fires Community Justice Program.
To maintain a holistic justice system that is more meaningful to the Aboriginal participant, victims, and community rooted in culturally appropriate approaches.
To restore greater responsibility to Aboriginal Communities for the administration of justice through traditional healing.
The program will embrace all Aboriginal people with the philosophy of the Seven Grandfather teachings.
To incorporate the seven gifts of the Grandfather teachings in the operation of the program.
HUMILITY, BRAVERY, WISDOM, HONESTY, TRUTH, LOVE & RESPECT
To assist the accused/client to develop a healthy lifestyle by facilitating a disposition and provide tools and resources that include the Physical, Spiritual, Emotional and Mental aspects of the participant.
To encourage the participant to take responsibility for their actions and to be accountable to the wider community.
To address the emotional needs of those impacted by a criminal offence, which could include victims, families and the community.
To restore greater responsibility to Aboriginal communities for the administration of justice through traditional healing.