RAFT began as Calgary Community Conferencing (CCC) in 1998. Doug Borch, a probation officer with the City of Calgary, had a vision that restorative interventions would be available for youth and their victims in Calgary. The program began as a part-time initiative supervised by the City of Calgary and Calgary Family Services until Doug approached three other organizations with his idea – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Calgary John Howard Society and Calgary Board of Education (CBE). They agreed to provide staff and funding for the project and in 1999, a collaborative, inter-agency approach to Conferencing was developed.
The model for CCC came from the ideas of key Restorative Justice researchers as well as the New Zealand Family Group Conferencing model. Read more about Restorative Justice.
In 2012, a decision was made to further amalgamate and incorporate other restorative justice programs of the John Howard Society into CCC under the name RAFT – Restorative Actions for Transformation. This allowed for a spectrum of alternative restorative services to be offered beyond Community Conferencing.
Working in Collaboration
The RAFT program has a unique structure – it was created as a collaborative, inter-agency project that linked non-profit and institutional partners in justice, education and community-based agencies.
The current organizations collaborating in RAFT are:
City of Calgary – Calgary Neighbourhoods is contracted by Alberta Justice to provide youth probation services within Calgary. Probation Services provides a direct link to judges, Crown and defense as RAFT programs are often a pre-sentence measure or post-sentence condition.
MCC is a pioneer in the development of restorative justice philosophy and programs with experience in mediation, prison visitation and youth justice. MCC brings a strong and comprehensive national and international network of organizations committed to meaningful resolution of conflict and the development of healthy communities.
CJHS’s mission is to reduce the incidence of crime and increase community safety through preventative and restorative justice practices. CJHS’s experience and history in mediation and conferencing services was instrumental to the expansion of CCC into RAFT.
Carya offers individual, family and group counseling on a sliding scale. Participants of a Community Conference who wish to access counseling can do so through a direct referral via RAFT.
Facilitators of RAFT come from the sponsoring organizations. Partnering organizations provide consultation and resources to the program and its participants. An Advisory Board composed of management level representatives from each of the organizations assists RAFT with the development of funding proposals and with navigating systemic and organizational issues.
RAFT does not exist as a separate entity, but, rather, remains a partnership among the collaborating organizations. The facilitators remain employees of their home organizations.
In 2014, RAFT won the Bhayana Family Foundation Award and the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General Community Justice Award in recognition for its partnership and collaboration.
How We Work
Referrals for RAFT programs come from:
- Calgary Youth Court following a guilty plea as a pre-sentence measure or a post-sentence condition
- Extra-judicial sanctions (EJS), an alternative to sentencing for first time offenders
- The Gateway Initiative, an intervention program for youth who commit chargeable but minor offenses.
RAFT works through these programs to ensure that disclosure of victim and young offender information complies with relevant legislation (Youth Justice Act, Freedom of Information and Privacy Act).
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