Sankofa Justice Initiative
At ACCEC, we recognize and value the vast knowledge and diverse perspectives of African Indigenous peoples, and all people of African descent. It is important we honour and incorporate each other’s teachings and knowledge systems as a pan-African approach to foster healing, unity and solidarity.
ACCEC is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people of African descent in Canada through direct services, research, policy analysis, and advocacy. One of our key programs implemented is the Sankofa Justice Initiative (SJI), which aims to address the over-representation of African-Canadians in the legal systems in Alberta. The SJI program aligns with ACCEC’s mission to empower and advance the rights and opportunities of people of African descent in Canada through delivering high quality services, research, and examining policies and legislative frameworks that impact people of African descent’s lives in Alberta and across Canada. Sankofa is a West African word that translates to “go back and recover it” and is often symbolized by a bird reaching back to retrieve an egg from its past. ACCEC chose this name as it embodies the spirit of our SJ initiative whose pillars are rooted in culture, healing, and reconciliation through our ancestorial wisdom and knowledge.
The Sankofa Justice Initiative program offers four vital initiatives:
- Legal Directory: Through our legal directory ACCEC improves access to justice for members of our community by offering a comprehensive legal reference guide of law firms, lawyers, and legal services. Our partnered lawyers and law firms have undergone ACCEC’s training on trauma-informed care and the impact of anti-Black racism and have a community Afrocentric perspective on understanding.
- IRCA: Provide the courts with background factors that may have contributed to the individual’s involvement in the criminal justice system. The objective is to contextualize the experiences of people of African descent and establish the significant impact of anti-Black racism. These reports are written by a trained, certified assessor of African descent.
- Education/Awareness: ACCEC’s comprehensive curriculum offers specialized training on issues such as the impact of refugees and displacement, colonization and enslavement, mental health, poverty, adverse childhood trauma, and the effects of prolonged historical and present-day racism. Educational programs focus on the impact of race and culture, training professionals in public services on the unique challenges faced by people of African descent from an Afrocentric worldview.
- Healing Circles: ACCEC utilizes African Indigenous Knowledge systems such as restorative justice circles and African Wisdom Keepers to bring balance and repair harm.