Restorative Justice Society – North Okanagan executive director Margaret Clark is pleased that the program can continue under the wing of CMHA. (Roger Knox/Morning Star file photo)

Restorative Justice Society – North Okanagan executive director Margaret Clark is pleased that the program can continue under the wing of CMHA. (Roger Knox/Morning Star file photo)

Restorative justice joins forces with North Okanagan agency

Canadian Mental Health Association adopts program struggling with financing

Justice is prevailing.

A local program dedicated to restoring peace among youth and those they have harmed is joining forces with a larger agency to combat financial struggles.

In light of funding concerns, Restorative Justice Society (RJS) is teaming up under Vernon’s branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association(CMHA).

“We’ve looked for additional funding sources throughout these years and it’s been an ongoing challenge,” RJS executive director Margaret Clark said.

By taking the program under its wing, CMHA hopes to give RJS the boost it needs to continue the good work being done.

“There’s different grants that we can support the Restorative Justice program with,” CMHA executive director Julia Payson said.

Operating since 2006, RJS has assisted 1,048 persons harmed (victims of crime) in the North Okanagan.

In doing so, they have facilitated 367 agreements which have had an 80 per cent average compliance rate.

“It’s an important program to divert youth from the overtaxed justice system,” Vernon Coun. Kelly Fehr said.

Teaming up with CMHA is a good fit as over the past few years there has been an increase in offences where mental health, substance use and poverty-related issues are associated.

The two agencies are commended for coming together to continue the good work.

“I know a number of societies are struggling right now. It’s very encouraging that you didn’t just throw in the towel,” Coun. Scott Anderson said.

The City of Vernon provides 55 per cent of RJS’s funding, which will be transferred to CMHA.

“Our hopes are that with the added infrastructure, that we can continue to make it robust,” said Payson.

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