Originally posted in the Winnipeg Free Press, Letters to the Editor, July 8, 2017.
Re: Face to face with his father’s killer (July 4)
I hope that Ricky Strongquill’s successful restorative experience with Robert Sand, the man who killed Ricky’s father, Dennis Strongquill, can sharply increase the public’s awareness that a restorative justice interaction can be as appropriate and transformative for very serious offences as it can be for minor offences.
This case is an uplifting example of conventional and restorative justice processes working in combination to produce an outcome that brings liberation and healing to someone deeply affected by the incident, to the man who caused the incident and to society at large.
Many members of society want people who do harm to be held accountable for their actions but they also want to see that person’s genuine contrition and understanding of impact. Who better to hold the offender accountable than the son of the man who died? Prior to this restorative justice experience, these elements had been missing in the delivery of justice in this case.
I praise Ricky Strongquill for his courage to travel along this hard and meaningful journey. He is refreshed and transformed because of his commitment to do something really difficult. Transformation has also come to Robert, who has been carrying the guilt for what he did and he will be in a stronger position to be a successful citizen once he finishes his sentence and returns to society. Thus, our community will be safer because justice has been delivered in a more complete and effective way.
Restorative justice needs to be seen not only as a sole, adequate and effective tool for administering justice but also as a powerful complimentary process to the formal justice system for cases that range from the smallest to the most serious.