August 2015

Community-Based Restorative Justice

“My humanity is wrapped up in your humanity…”

Early June, Gabs Sagaral, our Media Officer, attended the course Community-Based Restorative Justice (CBRJ) at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) Annual Training in Davao City, Philippines. The Annual Training is an intensive three-week training on peacebuilding and conflict transformation for peace and justice practitioners, conducted every year. Through a scholarship grant from MPI, Gabs was able to participate in the course with nine other practitioners coming from different backgrounds and countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Solomon Islands, Philippines and USA. Jeremy Simons, who is also a staff of iE, co-facilitated the course with Myla Leguro, a peacebuilding expert from the Catholic Relief Services in Mindanao.

CBRJ provided how Indigenous peacemaking emphasizes cultural approaches rooted in local practices and spiritual traditions, drawing examples from the Philippines, South Africa and Sierra Leone. The course also conducted skills training through role-playing of Indigenous peace circles, mediation and community accountability processes. At the end of the course, Gabs, together with two other community development workers based in Mindanao, created a contextualized framework of restorative justice oriented towards community-based healing and holistic accountability that focused particularly on the underlying cultural values and assumptions of the Mindanaon context.

Gabs shares her thoughts on the training:

“Restorative Justice is relevant to our work in iE because it recognizes traditional justice systems and the processes that value relationships, honor, harmony, interdependence and spirituality embedded within Indigenous communities. One of our resource speakers aptly said: my humanity is wrapped up in your humanity. In this, I was reminded that each one of us is distinct but deeply interconnected.”

As part of the scholarship grant, Gabs is currently exploring how to actualize the skills and knowledge she gained from CBRJ through a creative media project. She hopes to focus on documenting restorative processes, rituals and symbols within Indigenous communities through a digital story that will serve as a resource material the community can use to educate others.