First it was society status for the Restorative Justice Society – North Okanagan.
Now, it has charity status.
Executive director Margaret Clark announced that the Restorative Justice Society has been granted charity status under the Canada Revenue Agency, meaning it can now officially receive donations.
“Becoming a society gave us an advantage to gain charity status,” said Clark. “We have not received any donations before and now we can.”
The Restorative Justice Society – North Okanagan is used for victims of crime first and foremost with a focus on the offenders of the crime.
“Participation is voluntary and it’s an approach to keep everyone involved in an incident out of the courts,” said Clark.
Her office has been receiving referrals since January 2006 within the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment. That includes the communities of Vernon, Spallumcheen, Armstrong, Enderby, Coldstream, Lumby and three regional districts with electoral areas for BX-Swan Lake, BX-Silver Star, Enderby rural, Lumby rural, Cherryville, Falkland and Westwold-Monte Lake.
Referrals are received directly from the RCMP and North Okanagan schools.
The majority of funding for the program comes from the City of Vernon, with added funds from the provincial ministry of justice and donations from member municipalities.
“The city (of Vernon) gives us about 75 per cent of funding, and we have a budget of about $71,000,” said Clark. “They have been a great supporter of the program. We’ve received more funding the last couple of years from rural communities, and we may always require financial support from the municipalities.
“We’ve been looking at ways of becoming financially independent and this (charity status) is one of the ways of doing that.”
Anybody wishing to make a donation to the Restorative Justice Society – North Okanagan, or who would like more information about the program, can call Clark at 250-550-7846, or e-mail her at email@example.com.