150+ Canadians Day 28: Pierre Allard

Pierre Allard contributed to peace by building capacity for victims and offenders heal through restorative justice.#Canada150

Pierre Allard has had a long career in chaplaincy with Correctional Services of Canada. For over a quarter of a century, Rev. Allard has been engaged in the spiritual sustenance of prisoners. His work has placed him at the forefront of the new restorative justice movement, which brings together communities, offenders, and victims of crime to discuss the effects of criminal acts on the community.

A favourite Allard story flows from the birth of their first daughter, Sophia. Shortly after she was born, he and Judith took her to the prison one Sunday for a chapel service. At the service, 50 inmates gathered in a circle, where Judith handed off Sophia to the inmate standing beside her. Then, slowly, the baby was passed from hand to hand, around the dewy-eyed circle. When she was returned to her parents, the chaplain talked to the men about new life and a new start, suggesting that it was available to everyone, even those who are incarcerated.

That event, and the 1980 murder of his brother, Andre, helped to shape his strong belief in restorative justice — the concept that stresses restoration of relationships between offender and victim. He is also a strong supporter of “circles of support and accountability.” This is a program especially applicable to sexual offenders who have completed their sentences. Circles of volunteers, often church-based, figuratively surround the offender, providing social and physical blockages to re-offending. Dr. Allard says the program, about a decade old, is over 90 per cent successful so far.

Pierre is the president of Just Equipping. Just Equipping is a Canadian Registered Charity committed to equipping people in the area of restorative justice. Since 2006, a number of training missions have taken place in Africa: Rwanda, Burundi, RD Congo and Cameroon. Just Equipping can play a crucial role in the reintegration of offenders, the rebuilding of communities, the comfort of victims and the future of corrections and chaplaincy in these countries.

Pierre is also an ambassador for Centre de Services de Justice Réparatrice, or Centre for Services in Restorative Justice. You can learn more about their work on their website.

Bonus Video: Here is Pierre, in his own words, telling the story of his path towards restorative justice.