Christianne Paras

Christianne Paras is Filipino Canadian and serves as the training and education coordinator for the Community Justice Initiatives Training Association in the Fraser Region of British Columbia. With over fifteen years of 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 also a facilitator with the North Shore Multicultural Society, providing anti-racism and cultural diversity workshops in schools across the Lower Mainland. She has established a variety of justice-related community programs in North Vancouver, including the Community Dialogue Series Initiative and Speak Out, which provide opportunities for student and public dialogue on issues of violence and peacemaking.

Christianne holds a BA (with recognition) in criminology from Simon Fraser University and a diploma in criminology from Douglas College. She is known as a passionate, thoughtful, and ethically grounded practitioner who brings authentic presence and insight into her practice and training

"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.