SDRJ & OTF Lunch & Learn Event 2023

On the afternoon of Friday, January 27th, Sudbury District Restorative Justice (SDRJ) hosted their first-ever grant recognition event. The style of this event was an in-person lunch and learn event and took place at the office at 238 Elm St. In attendance were: Sudbury MPP Jamie West, Myles MacCleod an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) volunteer, Jackie Balleny, Pina Catalano, Celine Rancourt, and MJ Curley. Members of local media, CTV News Northern Ontario and, were also in attendance. 

 The event was streamed on Zoom for those who were unable to attend in-person. Members of the Sudbury community and community partners were in attendance: Sherri Moroso, Community Development Coordinator at City of Greater Sudbury, and the team at Northern Youth Services were in the virtual audience, as was Board Member Charity Ochang-arewa.

  In 2022, the OTF presented SDRJ with a $65,200 grant to help grow their existing programming, implement COVID-19 safety measures, build on their communications sector, and allowed them to hire a French-speaking program coordinator. To mark the success of the last year because of this grant, the team at SDRJ began planning this event to recognize how this grant has influenced the organization throughout the year. This planning process began in November of 2022 with members of SDRJ conversing with the OTF to make sure all the correct protocols were followed and began to put plans into place.

On the day of the event, in-person attendees were invited into the office for light refreshments and welcomed into the conference room to join the SDRJ team and those attending virtually to begin the lunch and learn discussion. MJ Curley, the Communications Coordinator for SDRJ, began the discourse by asking those at the table to introduce themselves. The conversation was led by Jackie Balleny, the Executive Director for SDRJ who explained the focus of the organization’s most sought-after program, the conflict management coaching program.

“The focus of the conflict management coaching programming is to get individuals who cause harm to understand their brain and behaviour and the impact that maybe individual trauma has had on them because we know that hurt people hurt people,” (Source)

She explained how the grant allowed SDRJ to expand this program and its contents to new heights which has allowed for a plethora of new referrals within the last year. She also explained how the grant allowed SDRJ to make this programming more accessible to youth during the COVID-19 pandemic with the purchasing of personal protective equipment for the office and technological equipment for online learning. 

Next to speak was Pina Catalano, the Program Coordinator for SDRJ. She explained the importance of the organization’s core programming and its impact on many of her clients. 

“We give (clients) an opportunity to reflect on one another’s perspectives, and give them a chance to solve the conflict together with the help of our mediation, so that we can direct the conversation to a healthy solution.” (Source)

The newest member to the team, Celine Rancourt, was introduced by MJ. Due to illness, Celine was unable to speak, so MJ spoke on her behalf. She explained how the grant allowed SDRJ to hire Celine which opened up many referrals for program service to the Francophone youth community in Sudbury. Prior to this grant, SDRJ was only able to offer programming in English which limited the amount of reach that is necessary for the large impact SDRJ wishes to have. Celine is engaging with youth and increasing our program reach and impact.

MJ spoke next and explained her role in the organization. She is the Communications Coordinator for SDRJ and is also a trained program facilitator. During her time at SDRJ, she has helped build the organizations’ social media presence, made significant updates to the SDRJ website, assisted with program development and produced publication materials as well as presenting programming to youth. She explained how this grant has allowed her and the organization to showcase the programming services of SDRJ and the positive impact that is occurring in our community.

This lunch and learn event permitted SDRJ to thank OTF for the grant and to showcase just how crucial the role of Restorative Justice is in our community to assist youth in managing and resolving conflict and to take responsibility and accountability for their actions. It outlined how necessary OTF grants are for not for profit organizations like SDRJ,  to adjust and re-align programming that meets new emerging community needs when faced with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Once the meeting concluded, MPP Jamie West and OTF volunteer Myles MacCleod spoke to the media about their thoughts on the organization and the work they are doing.

“Typically justice is like a penalty but I think the idea of having people who were affected by crime and the perpetrators get together and figure out what is a good solution so they both feel like justice has been served is a great idea,” said Sudbury MPP Jamie West. (Source)

“It’s quite interesting what they do and the amount of work they are doing to help the youth and trying to catch youth before they fall into the system,” said Myles MacLeod, (Source)

We consider this  event a success as media in attendance amplified SDRJ programming and the essential need for OTF grant funding to support community programs like ours.  CTV News Northern Ontario videojournalist Alana Everson published the story, see video here. also published a story, see that story here.

To read more about the event, please visit: