A Once and Future PeaceBased on Indigenous peacemaking circles, a restorative justice approach brings healing to families and communities while breaking the cycle of incarceration
In the 1980s, the Tagish Tlingit people of Yukon revived their ancient practice of peacemaking circles, sitting together to regain balance after an offense was committed by a member of the community.
Peacemaking circles are now a growing part of a restorative justice movement that aims to re-envision a broken criminal justice system.
In Seattle, Washington, the county government collaborates with the community to pilot a paradigm-shifting program founded on the principles of the Indigenous model: that people are not disposable and accountability is achieved not through punishment, but by understanding the harm done. The goal is to reintegrate young offenders back into their community.
The program’s goals are both systemic and personal ― to keep young people out of prison, to reform the justice system and to bring healing to disenfranchised families and communities.
A Once and Future Peace follows Andy, a young Mexican-American man facing felony charges, as he struggles through the program, guided by former gang leader, Saroeum Phoung.
The documentary takes viewers back to the Indigenous origins of peacemaking circles in Yukon, and reveals the trajectory that brought the ancient practice from the past to the present.