Ms. Catherine Fife: Waterloo region is fortunate to be home to Community Justice Initiatives, a groundbreaking, non-profit organization that teaches us about the principles of restorative justice and helps all people who are impacted by crimes and violence heal in a more holistic and meaningful way.
I recently attended a Fresh Start Creations donation ceremony at Grand Valley Institution, a federal penitentiary in Kitchener. Fresh Start Creations is a grassroots initiative that started when the women of GVI decided that they wanted to give back to society. The cards are created with volunteers from CJI and sold in our community, with proceeds donated by the women to a charity of their choice. On the night that I was there, the women at the maximum-security unit donated $500 to Anselma House, a non-profit that supports women and children who are fleeing abusive environments.
I promised the women I met at GVI that I would take their kindness and resiliency with me back to Queen’s Park and share what I’ve learned about the importance of restorative justice with my colleagues. I also promised them that we would start selling their beautiful cards at the Legislative Assembly gift shop. The cards are now for sale, so I encourage you all to stop by the gift shop and support the creative work that the women at GVI are doing to change their own lives and perspectives about incarcerated women.