The John Howard Society of Saskatchewan (JHSS) is hosting a two-day conference focusing on reconciliation and restorative justice this week at the Grant Hall Hotel.
The event, titled Changing Our Lens: A Community Gathering on Reconciliation & Restorative Justice, features several keynote speakers, panel discussions, and an Indigenous-based trade show that is open to the public.
About 100 people from across the province are attending the conference, which wraps up Friday afternoon.
"We just have two days of really amazing speakers. People who are coming to share some of their own personal life stories," explained Jody Oakes, Manager of Justice Programming and Branch Services at the John Howard Society. "We have Ben Perrin...who is an author and a lawyer out of UBC coming to share with us. We have Legal Aid Saskatchewan. We have Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway speaking...We have Eleanore Sunchild, the lawyer for the Colton Boushie family...We have a panel of a lived-experience individual who has gone through writing a Gladue submission guide, which is something for Indigenous people when they're engaged in the justice system."
This is the first year that the JHSS has hosted a conference focusing on reconciliation and restorative justice.
"As a board member with the John Howard Society, one of the things our board has prioritized is how we can authentically and genuinely incorporate the TRC's (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada) 94 Calls to Action," noted JHSS Board President and Chair Jennifer Angus. "One of the things that we really want to get out of this, is a better understanding of how we can work together and support one another in our communities."
Oakes noted the goal of the conference is to encourage people to think about how they can incorporate discussion surrounding restorative justice and reconciliation into their daily lives.
"Just bringing people together so we can meet new people and learn from each other, that's a big thing," she said. "If we can take away from one other individual, how we can make changes in what we can do. With the 94 Calls to Action, the UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Two-Spirit Girls. Those calls to action as well. Not just listening, but making action into those and doing something is really important."
For over 65 years, the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan has served people who are involved in, or at risk of being involved in the criminal justice system. JHSS currently has around 120 employees delivering more than two dozen programs with offices in Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Regina, and Saskatoon.
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