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Building a Pathway for a Human‑Centred Response to Gender‑Based Violence

Posted by Amanda Kirby-Sheppard on January 22, 2024 in News
The Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab
The Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab

The Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab (Restorative Lab) at the Schulich School of Law and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia are undertaking a trailblazing initiative aimed at strengthening the response to gender-based violence in Nova Scotia.

The research initiative, “Restorative Approach to Multiple Proceedings (RAMP): A Human-Centred Response to Gender-Based Domestic Violence,” is a 31-month project funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada. RAMP brings together justice and other system stakeholders in the province to build their capacity to work collaboratively in response to the articulated needs of people impacted by multiple proceedings related to gender-based domestic violence.

Often the challenges faced by individuals are addressed by providing help to navigate systems that are complex and siloed. This does not actually change these systems. By putting the people affected at the centre of the process, RAMP will create opportunities for families to identify their own needs and develop plans to better meet those needs. This initiative will then support system collaboration to work in ways needed to support the needs identified by families.

“We are excited to get the opportunity to work on a project that will support survivors and their families to navigate family and criminal justice systems through a human-centred, family-empowered approach,” says Emma Halpern (LLB '06), Executive Director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia.

RAMP was a key recommendation stemming from the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children (Restorative Inquiry) report in 2019, as a human-centred response to family violence and child and family well-being. The initiative was endorsed by the Mass Casualty Commission’s final report in 2023. That report declared epidemic-levels of gender-based and family violence in the country and called for government and non-government organizations to mobilize a society-wide response.

Ultimately, the goal is to ensure a more meaningful, coordinated, and comprehensive approach for people experiencing multiple judicial proceedings in cases of gender-based violence, which will serve to prevent further violence and improve the well-being of individuals as well as the broader community.

“This initiative is such an important example of the commitment to putting research into action for public impact, which is core to the mission of the Restorative Lab,” says Jennifer Llewellyn, the Schulich School of Law’s Chair in Restorative Justice and Director of the Restorative Lab.

The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, announced in December 2023 close to $5.4 million in funding for 14 organizations – 13 Nova Scotia organizations including the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, and one national organization - to advance gender equality and address gender-based violence.