Tami’s Story

Tami is a small business owner from Ontario, Canada. When a beloved community mural on the side of her building was graffitied, she was left with unanswered questions. Restorative Justice gave her the resolution she needed. 

This story is not to be reproduced without the express permission of Why me?. We would like to thank Community Justice Initiatives for their support to publish Tami’s story.


Tami’s customers were the first to report that the community mural had been vandalised. The mural was located in an alleyway on the side of Tami’s business and had been commissioned by a local artist to pay homage to their small community. “I think because the mural existed solely to pay homage to our community, that was why it was such a gut punch.” 

The two men who graffitied the mural were identified through nearby security cameras and were arrested. Restorative Justice was recommended as part of their court process, and Tami was keen to take part. 

Why did you want to take part in Restorative Justice?

Since the mural made up such a small part of the alleyway, and because it was a point of pride for the local community, Tami struggled to understand why they had chosen to vandalise it. 

“I was really curious as to why they did what they did. You have to imagine this alleyway where the vandalism occurred. The rest of the alleyway was completely a blank slate. They chose to vandalise directly on the mural.” 

“I started wondering: is this somebody who has issues with our community? Issues with my business? Issues with me? Or was it just random? I had so many questions.”

The restorative process 

Meeting the men who vandalised the mural was an extremely positive experience for Tami. “I couldn’t have asked for more. I kind of had an idea in my head of what I wanted the outcome to be, and they offered up the solution that was exactly what I wanted.”

The two men listened, explained, and accepted responsibility for their actions. They also made amends. Out of their own time and money, they came back and repaired the wall and also put a sealant on the mural so that it could not be graffitied again. 

Through the course of their conversation, Tami learned that one of the men was an artist. She offered him a separate spot on the wall for him to create a design and “use his talents in a positive way.”

What was the impact?

The Restorative Justice process gave Tami the resolution that she was seeking. 

“Restorative Justice gave me those answers and that resolution that I never would have gotten had they gone through traditional fines, jail time, or whatever their punishment may have been. I never would have been given that resolution without the Restorative Justice programme.”

Using Restorative Justice for retail crime

Being a small business owner is not easy. For Tami, her business was an extension of her family, and she invested her “whole life” into it. That’s what made the experience of retail crime so difficult and emotional. 

Restorative Justice is a powerful tool that can help people who commit retail crimes see the impact of their actions and can help the victims of those crimes to recover and move forward.

“For small business owners in particular, because you have such an attachment to your business, it’s much more emotional than just something being stolen off your shelves or somebody graffitiing your building. It’s much more emotional than that. And I would encourage retailers or any small business owner: what you want is so much more than restitution. Yes, you want to be compensated for the money you lost, however the money was lost. But I think more than that, you want to understand why it happened to you. And that’s what Restorative Justice can give you.”

If you are interested in Restorative Justice, find your local Restorative Justice service through our map or learn more about how the process works. If you have a story you would like to share with us, please get in touch via info@why-me.org.


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