The idea of restorative justice (RJ) is one that has the potential to provoke strong reactions. As its name implies, the general concept prioritizes the rehabilitation of offenders in the interest of public safety and reintegration into society, often through open dialogue between victims and offenders. For Barbara Tomporowski, a senior policy analyst with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice, it’s one that’s close to her heart: “RJ is a great opportunity to have timely and effective justice to resolve cases quickly for victims, families, offenders and communities who are affected.”
For the past twenty years, Barbara has dedicated herself to advancing the practice of restorative justice in Canada. Her passion for RJ started as a university student, and has guided her career since then: “I have been lucky to teach in the areas of community justice, restorative justice, community based justice projects, and mediation. Students can go on to have exciting careers in all kinds of areas related to RJ.” Today, she continues to work as a sessional lecturer on top of her work as senior policy analyst.
According to Barbara, the Canadian criminal justice system is in an exciting time of change. “My work is really around amplifying the voices of those who are doing restorative justice around the country, and trying to help support restorative justice and community based justice programs in doing their work through policy development and programming.”
When asked how she incorporates the practise of restorative justice into her everyday life, Barbara refers to RJ process steward Howard Zehr’s Ten Ways to Live Restoratively. One principle of particular importance to Barbara is “putting forward a positive vision for how people could live safely together in communities and support each other. We can be compassionate and caring for each other in our communities and daily lives.” As a daily reminder, she has even has a printed copy of the Ten Ways to Live Restoratively in her closet!
A recognized keynote speaker, Barbara continues to engage and raise awareness about restorative justice both nationally and internationally, and has actively participated in the United Nations Experts meeting on the topic. Additionally, she shares her knowledge with groups not directly linked to RJ, including organizations addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls (#MMIWG).
Whether it’s through her work on the Values, Principles and Guidelines for RJ in criminal matters in Canada, her extensive volunteer work in the community, or educating students at the University of Regina, Barbara’s dedication serves as a powerful motivator for the advancement of RJ and its principles.