History of Lanark County Communty Justice Program

In the Beginning:

In December 1997, three young people lit a fire on the main street of the Town of Almonte in Lanark County as a prank.  Two people died and a store was gutted. Concerned citizens of this small town (youth workers, police officers, business people, parents) came together to see if a service could be put in place for the community that would heal the harm caused by crime.  In parallel to the offenders being dealt with by the judicial system, this grass roots community group wanted to encourage offender accountability, victim participation and community involvement in the aftermath of crime.            

This small town community group sought support from the police services, the Crown Attorney and various social service agencies as they struggled to deal with this issue.  Through training provided by the RCMP and strong support from the local police services and the Crown Attorney, this grass roots rural group started to facilitate Community Justice Forums. Offenders, victims and others affected by the crime were brought together to work toward an agreement on how to heal the harm done and rebuild relationships.

In addition to the forums, all promotional and administrative functions of the organization were handled by community volunteers. This pilot project brought the people of this rural community together and the program gained wider recognition. From this grass roots beginning, interest in restorative justice spread throughout the small towns and rural areas of Lanark County. Interest groups formed in each of the major communities in the County (Carleton Place, Lanark Highlands, Mississippi Mills, Perth, and Smiths Falls).

On July 7, 2000, the group incorporated as the Lanark County Community Justice Program Inc. This status afforded the opportunity to seek financial support through a variety of grants such as the Ontario Solicitor General’s “Partners Against Crime” fund, Lanark County Council and local service clubs.

Next Steps:

  • In late 2002, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC) awarded a 3-year evaluation program grant, which was dependent on partnership funding.
  • The partnership funding was secured in September 2003 through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario. Through this program LCCJP was part of a national study on the efficacy of restorative justice.
  • Also in 2003, Lanark County Community Justice Program (LCCJP) achieved charitable status, allowing for the issuance of tax-deductible receipts for qualifying donations.
  • In August 2004, LCCJP received $75,000 from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.
  • The Ontario Trillium Foundation continued to support LCCJP’s work in the community with a grant awarded in August of 2006.  These funds allowed our dedicated volunteers to continue to provide services to our community in spite of a lack of regular program funding.
  • In August of 2007, LCCJP was honoured to become a member agency of the United Way Lanark County.

Growth:

As the LCCJP program grew following incorporation, we partnered with the OPP and RCMP to train additional new volunteers in the facilitation of Community Justice Forums. In addition, our first part-time staff person was hired in November 2003 as a Program Coordinator.  In January 2004, the Coordinator became a full time position and we hired a full time Administrative Coordinator. March 2006, Marion Taylor Forum Coordinator resigned and Bill Code replaced Marion as Acting Forum Coordinator. In October 2006, LCCJP was selected as a one of the Ontario Youth Justice Committee sites (YJCs). YJCs use trained community volunteers to meet with young people between 12 and 17 alleged to have committed non-violent offences and their parents, along with the victims to talk about what happened, who was impacted and how the harm can be repaired.

Progress:

  • Office in Codes Mill – 2004
  • Ontario Trillium Foundation one-year grant for capacity building 2012-2013
  • Strategic Plan 2012-2015
  • Department of Justice Canada grants in support of Victims Awareness Week 2008
  • Victim Services Award of Distinction 2013,   Ministry of the Attorney General
  • Certificate of Recognition 2008, Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award
  • Health is a Community Affair Award June 2005,  Lanark Health and Community Services
  • Move the office to 8 Herriott Street, Suite 10-E  in May 2012

More Recent:

  • Sarah Bingham was hired as the Executive Director in September 2016
  • Andrew Lynch was hired as the Community Animator to run the BE STRONG youth project in March 2016
  • Our new school and youth centre program, BE STRONG, launched in Februrary 2016
  • Beth Peterkin was hired as the Executive Director in August 2014
  • Facilitator training was held in the fall of 2014
  • The Board of Directors held a retreat day in the spring of 2015 and drafted a new Strategic Plan for 2016-2019 which was presented at the AGM in November of that year
  • Training was provided to the peer advocates of The Table Community Food Centre in the spring and summer of 2015
  • LCCJP welcomed Jake MacIsaac from Dalhousie University as the guest speaker for the Annual General Meeting in November 2015

NOTE: This history is a work-in-progress  and we welcome input from anyone who can add missing information.  Please contact us at admin@commjustice.org if you can supply the missing pieces.  We would also love photos from the past if you have any to share.