Who We Are

A Note About RFNL

Relationships First Newfoundland and Labrador (RFNL) is a provincial Restorative Justice organization housed in Memorial University’s Faculty of Education. We aim to provide support, resources, research, and recommendations for the sustainability of the holistic integration of Restorative Justice in Newfoundland and Labrador. We are able to do this important work with generous support from our partners who provide financial and in-kind support. Please see https://www.rfnl.org/connecting/our-partners for a complete list of RFNL’s partners.

We believe that Restorative Justice is a way of being and define it as the framework upon which communities nurture the capacity of people to engage with one another and their environment in a manner that supports and respects the inherent dignity and worth of all. We are led by the interconnection of four equally significant intentions:

  • Embodying respect, dignity, and mutual concern

  • Creating just and equitable environments

  • Nurturing healthy relationships

  • Repairing harm and transforming conflict

RFNL is an organization that has been supported throughout the years with generous funding from a variety of sources. Currently, we are working with our funders to create opportunities for members of a variety of communities to learn about and through Restorative Justice in project-specific contexts. Most recently, RFNL has received funding from the Kim Cole Memorial Fund, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Justice. With this funding we are able to employ two full-time positions: Restorative Justice in Education (RJE) Coordinator, sarah mcdonald, and Restorative Justice in Community/Justice (RJC/J) Coordinator, Margaret Cranford.

In their capacities as RJE Coordinator and RJC/J Coordinator sarah and Margaret will be involved in various projects which aim to foster relational ways of being in Newfoundland and Labrador. This will include connecting with organizations/groups that already prioritize relationships to learn from and with them. The RFNL team will also work with organizations who wish to begin their relational learning journey by providing customized support based on identified needs in these specific communities.

sarah will focus on the Restorative Justice needs of educators and learners in all learning environments in Newfoundland and Labrador (NLESD, CSFP, First Nation Schools (Innu and Mi’kmaq), Inuit Schools, private schools, alternative education facilities, NLTA, etc.).

Margaret will work with individuals and organizations currently engaged in Restorative Justice in order to deepen RFNL’s understanding of what is currently occurring in the Newfoundland and Labrador Community and Justice settings. Margaret will create spaces and opportunities where governing officials, community and judicial directors, their associated entities, and relevant leaders come together to advance policies, procedures, and program development with a Restorative Justice lens.

Both sarah and Margaret will develop innovative professional learning prototypes and digital and print resources to promote a deeper understanding of relational ways of being, knowing, and doing. RFNL will work to spread awareness and messaging which highlights and encourages relational ways of being and knowing through professional learning opportunities, facilitated circle experiences/meetings, presentations, social media, videos, art, print resources, etc.

Our History

In August 2012, 17 educators in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) embarked on a two-week long institute to explore the possibilities of Relationships First: Restorative Justice in Education. Beginning with an exploration of their own core beliefs and values, the educators dug deep to reflect on the many relationships that make up their school community and began their journey toward creating and sustaining healthy, inclusive relationships in schools. Since then, many others involved in education in NL have discovered the benefits of restorative justice in schools. In 2014 Relationships First: Restorative Justice in Education Consortium was formed and engaged a wide variety of education stakeholders within and outside of the traditional schooling systems.

Since that time we have grown into a multidisciplinary Research and Resource centre that is comprised of researchers and practitioners in relational justice. ​We share our insights and experiences on this site in hopes of learning together with others globally. Please explore the site, send us feedback, and share your ideas.

Our Vision & Mission

To thrive youth and adults alike need to be loved; to be loved we need to belong. When we belong, we learn to trust, and when we trust we discover our interconnectedness. Institutions and organizations have significant potential for nurturing cultures of belonging.


RFNL envisions communities where the inherent worth and well-being of all involved are honoured and promoted. It recognizes the significance of authentic relationships in the healthy development of youth in NL.


RFNL's aim is to nurture and support relational organizational cultures where children, youth, and adults alike thrive.


RFNL promotes, supports, and encourages the development of relational policies within a variety of organizations engaged with youth; and creating and sustaining relational cultures in Newfoundland and Labrador. Be sure to read our partners section to learn more about who's involved!