Source: (2005) Paper presented at "The Next Step: Building Restorative Communities", IIRP 7th International Conference on Conferencing, Circles and other Restorative Practices, 9-11 November, Manchester, England, UK. Downloaded 9 December 2005.

Issues of abuse within families and particularly Aboriginal families have been brought to the surface in Canada over the last decade. In response, a growing number of Aboriginal communities are developing holistic models of treatment for Aboriginal victims, offenders, families and the community as a whole. The approach taken is one that addresses the root causes of criminal activity and proactively engages offenders, victims and families to break the cycle of abuse. These initiatives work within the current criminal justice system while bringing a unique alternative to imprisonment that can lead to stronger and safer communities. Communities engaged in these healing approaches have seen benefits in terms of significantly reduced criminal activity and several other social benefits. There is not one universally recognized definition of community healing. Some have described healing as being “about collective approaches to change that enhance Aboriginal cultural identity. It is about family and community crisis intervention, integrated human services, political cooperation and public participation in processes of planned change and institution building.”i The Four Worlds Centre for Development Education concludes that healing “ may therefore be strategically described as a process of removing barriers and building the capacity of people and communities to address the determinants of health.(excerpt)

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