Qwí:qwelstóm Stó:lō Service Agency Justice Program
The Qwí:qwelstóm Stó:lō Service Agency Justice Program focuses on relationships and interconnections of all living things and healing individuals, families and communities.
Qwí:qwelstóm is the Halq'eméylem word that best describes "justice" according to the Stó:lō worldview. It reflects a "way of life" that focuses on relationships and the interconnectedness of all living beings. It is based upon traditional Stó:lō forms of dispute settlement: whereby, affected family and community members are called together to discuss what has happened and to reach an agreement on how to best repair the harm and restore balance and harmony to the disrupted relationship.
Qwí:qwelstóm empowers Stó:lō community members by providing an opportunity to become directly involved in the justice process in a meaningful way.
About Qwí:qwelstóm Justice
Traditionally, justice for Stó:lō meant living harmoniously with others; justice was centered upon relations with all living life. When relations became disrupted, Si: yam would gather the people together and decide how best to restore the balance to the relationship. Harmony would be restored through the use and belief in two fundamental principles: Respect and Teachings.
The Elders and Si:ya':m would talk to the individuals and re-establish his / her responsibility to live in a good way. This traditional view of justice was based on the following principles:
- Consensus decision making
- The interrelatedness of all things
- Sense of belonging and connection to family and community
How Qwí:qwelstóm Justice Works
Referrals to Qwí:qwelstóm Justice can be made one of five sources:
- Self referrals
- Community agencies (i.e. Crown Counsel, Ministry and Family Service, etc)
- The Courts
In order for a referral to be accepted:
- The person who has done the harm must be willing to take responsibility for his / her actions.
- The person(s) harmed must be kept fully informed of the process and invited to participate.
- Qwí:qwelstóm Justice accepts referrals from all Stó:lō Nation Bands and First Nations living in Stó:lō Territory, from other areas in B.C. and from other provinces.