The Thompson Economic Diversification Working Group (TEDWG) met Jan. 25 to discuss the issue of alternative justice and the need for a restorative justice facility in the North.
The first steps have been taken as an action plan and vision for the facility have been established. The action plan includes things like options for facility design, programing and location for the facility itself.
The TEDWG sub-committee in charge of shaping the action plan and the province's adult corrections capacity committee met to discuss how to best invest in new corrections facilities.
Mayor Tim Johnston, who is a TEDWG member, addressed the public and media on Jan 25 to discuss the plans of the working group going forward.
“I was very pleased with the discussion today with the Province of Manitoba and I look forward to meeting with the minister of justice and discussing the proposal and the work of the committee,” said Johnston.
The vision for the restorative justice facility focuses on healing and treatment; so-called “re-pathing’ and cultural/spiritual awareness, learning and advancement, reconnection and the facility being secure and integrated into its surrounding environment.
Reg Meade of the Northern Association of Community Councils (NACC) also spoke enthusiastically about the potential for the new facility.
“This is a facility not only for the City of Thompson but for all of Northern Manitoba,” said Meade, “and not only for us aboriginal people but for all people living in Northern Manitoba.”
A number of representatives from community groups were in attendance for the day's meeting, including David Sanderson from the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), who addressed the audience.
“I want to express our (MKO) intent to support this initiative,” said Sanderson, “justice affects all of our First Nations in this region, but it also affects the region as a whole. We need to have a concrete solution, not just for the immediate problem but for the future as well.”
RePlan has been working alongside TEDWG as rePlan principals Drew Sinclair and Roman Mychajlowycz have been taking part in the alternative justice initiative and also attended the press conference.
“What we've tried to do in envisioning this institution is to create an effective plan that's implementable,” said Sinclair, “it describes a real building that can be located some place within the city of Thompson that would house somewhere in the area of 200 residents.”
Within the action plan, in regards to facility design and programing, a multi-level, mixed population facility has been recommended that would accommodate both youth and adult males and females. The facility would offer a wide spectrum of services that would include a variety of housing options, educational opportunities, a visitation area, and a spiritual centre.
The new justice facility would provide an economic upside, which was outlined in the action plan.
This facility could also act as a catalyst for the infrastructure development, sustainable employment, pushing forward the city's objectives for future growth and development.