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FACE circles: A well rounded opportunity in Canada

Feb 05, 2010

from the article by Sharon Weatherall in the Free Press:

In North Simcoe people can find resolution out of court through the Forum of Accountability in a Circle Experience (FACE) -a Huronia Restorative Justice Project since 1998. The Midland program was part a worldwide revival of the native traditional way of dealing with offensive behavior -and it works.

A community circle is an alternative to traditional court proceedings where offending conduct is resolved by having the offender, the victim and supporters of each sit together in a circle to opening discuss an incident and work to reach a consensus on how to resolve the harm done.

....The FACE program has existed in North Simcoe since 1998, with volunteers having undergone training updates in 2005 and 2009. Currently there are a total of 20 volunteer facilitators from the community -two facilitators working together in pairs in restorative circles.

Prost says the program started with Young Offenders at the request of Midland Police and now is used with offenders of all ages. As an alternative to youth court and adult criminal court FACE provides an opportunity for offenders to fully appreciate and become accountable for their behavior and for the healing of their victims and of community relationships, by encouraging those most directly affected to take responsibility for considering what has happened and what should happen as a consequence. By doing so offending behavior can be transformed into a positive community resource.

"The key is not to accuse or pass judgment on a person -each party says how they were affected by what happened. You talk about yourself and not the other person and back off from laying blame. The truth always comes out when everyone talks about themselves because a safe space has been created. It's all about truth speaking, acceptance and then forgiveness," said Prost.

"The process starts out small taking only one person to let down their guard and all of the others follow. It is healing for both sides. The offender asks for a way back into the community and wants to do something to set things right. The victim gets to understand what happened and why and then puts it behind them knowing it will not happen again."

Prost says the FACE program deals with all types of offenses -major and minor, using communications to deal with and get an issue off everyone's chest and then get on with life. Prost says in the school system FACE can be used in place of expulsion or other disciplinary measures. FACE was the 2008 YMCA Peace Medallion Winner and is a valuable asset to the North Simcoe community.

Read the whole article.

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