Circles in the Justice System

“Peacebuilders is not a magic pill; instead it is an agent of positive change motivating—not forcing—people to  talk openly about how they can learn from their mistakes.”

– father of a youth who recently completed the RYC program

“Peacebuilders has been instrumental in creating a system that works with youth, giving them a voice and the opportunity to make amends, rather than simply shutting them away, silenced and ignored. Through open dialogue, youth can find their way to shape a better future for themselves and others.”

– Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada

The Restorative Youth Circles program “provides a valuable tool to help troubled youth resolve their conflicts without court action. It provides ways for them to confront their problems non-violently…to make peace with themselves and others…”

– Hon. McMurtry, Former Chief Justice of Ontario

“Thank you—In my view J--- was in extreme distress when she was referred to Peacebuilders. She was on the “cusp” so to speak and could have gone either way. As she says, you “saved her”.

– Defense Counsel for a youth in the RYC program (June 2011)

“Today, young people are growing up in a more complex and diverse society than that in which their parents grew up. And just as with adults, the anxieties, ambitions and conflicts of youth cannot all be resolved by legal institutions… By helping them work in Youth Circles and to develop leadership skills relating to conflict resolution, Peacebuilders International can enable young people to be the builders of consensus today, and the leaders of consensus tomorrow.”

– Thomas G. Heintzman, Barrister and Solicitor

“Peacebuilders benefits young people, most of whom are marginalized youth, by helping keep them out of the criminal system. This is not only saving time and money, but more importantly, saving youth from a life of crime and violence, which not only affects them today, but also in their future.” 

– George Smitherman, MPP, Toronto Centre


Our Youth Clients speak

“I no longer have the ability to hate because of my experience with a Peacebuilders Circle and that’s because when you’re in a circle it is like no other experience you’ve ever felt before. You can be in a room where there is a lawyer, a police officer, a doctor, a judge, a drug addict and a criminal and after experiencing the circle you realize that everyone else in that room is equal.”

– RYC youth client

“If Peacebuilders weren’t here I wouldda (sic) gone to court, maybe get whatever the sentence would be, gone back and did it again.”

– RYC youth client


“This program has made me more mature and instead of using violence I am able to talk about my problems.”

– RYC youth client


Circles in the Classroom

“I like having Circles because we can talk about how we feel about fights or what’s happening at home. People respect what we say and what we say in our room stays in our room. I like that we have a talking piece. It helps because people do not shout out. We have Circles on Wednesdays. Even if we do not have a fight we still have Circles. Circles help me and make me feel better about fights.”

– Leigh, grade 5 student


“The Circle allowed me to reflect on things I never thing about on a daily basis”

– high school student after participating in a Respect/Disrespect Workshop

“I have learned that Peace Circles are so that you can have somewhere to express your feelings. I like Peace Circles because we try not to speak meanly to each other. Peace Circles are really helpful to my friends and I because when we get into fights they help us resolve our fights. I find Peace Circles helpful because they give us a chance to cool down. Peace Circles really help us.”

– Houston, grade 5 student