Christianne Paras is Ilokano and Kapangpangan, originally from the Ilocos region of the Philippines. She currently resides as an uninvited guest, an immigrant settler, on the unceded, ancestral and traditional lands of the Kwikwetlem peoples in BC, Canada.
With over 25 years’ experience in the restorative justice field, she is an accomplished facilitator with expertise in a variety of practice models including victim offender dialogue, family group conferencing, and peacemaking circles.
She is currently the Executive Director of Restorative Justice Association of BC. She is a co-founder of ROOTS – Reclaiming Out Own Truths & Stories, an organization dedicated to anti-racism work in restorative justice and community spaces. She is also a long time anti-oppression /anti-racism facilitator providing workshops in schools and organizations across Canada. Over the years, she has helped establish a variety of social justice-related community initiatives including the Building Vibrant Communities Workshops, Community Dialogue Series, Speak Out Series, and the Widening the Lens Symposium.
She is a published researcher and author, and has been involved in a wide variety of research projects on topics such as safety in seniors’ living spaces, online gambling, race and the criminal justice system, and restorative justice.
Quote from “Burn The Bridge, Colorizing Restorative Justice”:
“Excluding social justice from the restorative justice process centers the criminal justice system that benefits Whites: whiteness, white power, and white privilege and the structural and systemic hierarchy that these create.”
"Burn the Bridge"
Erica Littlewolf, Michelle Armster, and Christianne Paras all take exception to restorative justice’s claim that its roots derive from Indigenous ways. The “claim that restorative justice in its current iteration is honoring the traditions of Indigenous people is false,” they write. “Instead, restorative justice is rooted in a Western, white supremacist, cisgender, male dominated system.” In a word, colonization.
Nonetheless, the claim of Indigenous origins becomes the bridge metaphor that the restorative justice movement uses to historically link restorative justice to traditional Indigenous ways or practices. This bridge metaphor, the authors contend, needs conceptual burning. Like other CRJ contributors, Littlewolf, Armster, and Paras assert that the homage restorative justice pays to Indigenous ways is perhaps honored more in the breach than in the observance.
For these women, restorative justice has to amp up its critical self-awareness, especially in regard to its complicity with oppressive, colonizing institutions. It has to co-partner with social justice when addressing and undoing harms that these systems, like the US criminal-legal system, churns out. Social justice is about achieving equity despite a society that condones inequities— socio-economic, socio-political, socio-health, and socio-educational disparities. Indeed, Littlewolf, Armster, and Paras deconstruct restorative justice’s four assumptions that, intentionally or not, harm People of Color and Indigenous Peoples in the movement.