The Awasis Agency of Northern Manitoba has established the Mee-noo-stah-tan Mi-ni-si-win Project, a unique system of family justice, premised on resolving conflict in a manner similar to family group conferencing. The purpose of the Awasis First Nation Family Justice Initiative is to assist families in addressing child and family concerns outside of the regular child and family services and justice systems.
The Project aims to develop and deliver culturally specific family meditation or peacemaking strategies to address the care needs of children at risk of entering the Child and Family Services (CFS) system and to address planning needs for those children already in the CFS system and to then facilitate their speedy return to either immediate or extended family settings.
This alternative model for family justice has two components, a community-based conflict resolution process and the appointment of an individual to deal with a number of matters under the Child and Family Services Act. The project brings together family, extended family, community members, Elders, and community service providers in the resolution of child protection concerns through the use of properly trained O-kwes-ki-mo-wews or family mediators. The mediators use a combination of traditional peacemaking and family mediation skills.
The project is designed to target cases such as abandonment, neglect and children deemed "out of control". It is intended to be a bottom-up program, developed at the community level and designed and operated by community members for community members.