Common Camas and Great Camas surround a Garry Oak tree in a green spring park.

Transformative justice and gender-based violence

The idea of working with people who have sexually assaulted someone, disrespected ‘no’s’, harassed, stalked or caused the violation of people’s sexual wellbeing has often unsettled people. The practice of restorative and transformative justice has been with us since humanity has organized itself in collective communities. 

Indigenous peoples originated practices of community repair and healing practices to ensure survival and the wellness of the community and nation as a whole. These practices were devastated with the coming of European colonization to the Americas. Settler-colonialism set up and then entrenched for profit incarceration model that has entrapped millions of people in cycles of violence, surveillance and inter-generational trauma. 

Humanity has always resisted oppression, like cracks in the concrete, the roots, and rhizomes of solidarity. We continue to fight for the right to be in community and take care of each other in ways that is meaningful and dignified to us. During the 60s, marginalized communities of Indigenous, racialized, queer, kink began to find alternative ways to address gender-based violence within their communities.

This is no accident as these are the communities that have experienced the most violence and systemic injustices. Encounters with the state and pleas for help have been answered with neglect, stigma, or violence. Thus, making space for the oppressed communities to finds means of community healing within themselves.

Transformative Justice is an emergent community practice of trying to create repair, compassion and healing in a neo-liberal system that deeply benefits from our division and infighting and dehumanization. Transformative Justice asks of us some powerful questions about our humanity and our capacity for mercy, and for seeing beyond a person’s worst moment. 

Can our humanity meet the moment and create the space to hold the safety, and dignity for people who cause harm, violence, and act of degradation in our communities? It requires people willing to make hold a space for people to do the hard work feeling remorse, self reflection and sitting in the discomfort of guilt and this remorse long enough to find another way of being in the world. 

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