Pictured Above: Facilitators from Biidaaban who volunteered for this session: (L-R) Tom Dampier, Christine Douglas, Elder Lorraine McRae, Deanna Sheridan, and Brittany Simcoe
Article by Thomas Milne, edited by Lisa Del Col
On November 27, 2017, the Grade 7/8 students involved in Level’s Indigenous Youth Outreach Program (“IYOP”) at Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Elementary School in the Chippewas of Rama First Nation (“Rama”), were given a unique educational opportunity regarding restorative justice. Following their criminal mock trial, the students were faced with the decisive task of sentencing the offender. As part of a special session, the Biidaaban Program graciously hosted the students and shared teaching on sentencing and restoring the wrong that had been done in the mock criminal scenario.
The Biidaaban Program is an Indigenous justice program based in Rama. It is a community-based healing model grounded in local culture, traditions, and values, and supports a variety of justice initiatives, including restorative justice and healing circles. The students heard from Biidaaban members Brittany Simcoe, Tom Dampier, Deanna Sheridan, Christine Douglas, and Elder Lorraine McRae.
The students were fortunate to have connected with Biidaaban Program because it allowed them to learn important lessons from skilled and experienced justice workers about principles of justice and the administration justice from an Indigenous perspective. During the jam-packed session, the students participated in a traditional ceremony, learned about community and restorative justice, performed a comparative analysis between the Canadian justice system and restorative justice and healing, and learned about the Eight Basic Needs and Seven Grandfather Teachings, with the session concluding with a Sharing Circle.
Thomas Milne, IYOP’s excellent Program Leader in Rama, spoke about the session: “it was a privilege to learn from experience in dealing with justice issues at the community level. The Biidaaban Program contributed greatly to the students’ learning experience, and this connection was an important collaboration between two programs that really elevated the students’ understanding of the administration of justice in the community and abroad.”
Level is very grateful to the Biidaaban Program for hosting this special session, and we hope this collaboration can continue in the future!