In a recent development aimed at enhancing access to justice in Alberta, the provincial government has announced the launch of the Alberta Community Justice Grant. With an allocation of $1.2 million, this new initiative is designed to fund community-based alternatives to the formal court system, offering a more streamlined, less expensive, and culturally sensitive approach to resolving legal issues.
Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mickey Amery, emphasized the effectiveness of community justice programs as an innovative alternative. He noted, “This grant will help community organizations explore and create innovative programming to provide even more options for Albertans accessing the justice system and help reduce pressure on the courts.”
Community justice, which involves community members in decision-making and focuses on collaborative problem-solving, offers mediation, peacemaking, and other processes outside the traditional courtroom setting. This approach not only aims to resolve conflicts but also to build stronger and safer communities through prevention programs and community involvement.
The grant, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, is available to eligible community-based organizations and interest groups. These funds are intended to support existing community justice programs or to develop new alternatives to the formal court system. The application period for this one-time grant runs from January 31 to February 29.
Denise Blair, Executive Director of the Calgary Youth Justice Society, highlighted the impact of such investments, saying, “An investment like this grant that supports opportunities to steer people away from the justice system and towards effective solutions in the community is a win for all Albertans.” The Calgary Youth Justice Society has aided over 15,000 young people in navigating challenging life circumstances and making better choices.
Yusuf Ali, Board Chairperson of the Horn of Africa Educational and Economic Development Society, also expressed support for the grant. He pointed out the importance of culturally appropriate services in legal matters, especially for specific communities.
Diana Lowe, a justice system consultant working on Re-imagining Justice, added that the grant program symbolizes a commitment to supporting families and communities. She highlighted the aim of reducing reliance on adversarial legal processes and empowering access to necessary support for various social, relationship, parenting, financial, and health issues.
The grant will support various initiatives, including needs assessments, training resources, technological support, and research efforts to enhance the accessibility of these programs. However, it is important to note that individuals, academic institutions, for-profit organizations, Crown corporations, police services, and publicly funded institutions are not eligible for this grant. Only registered not-for-profits, charities in good standing, First Nations, Métis Nations, Metis Settlements, municipalities, and community groups with a designated fiscal agent based in Alberta can apply.