By Alana Abramson
This month we organized the first restorative justice week event at KPU (Nov. 24, 2017). Restorative Justice Week is a week in November --across Canada—where the work of restorative justice is celebrated and shared. One of the goals of the event is public education, helping provide information, and allowing people to know that restorative justice practices ARE real options.
I loved the diversity of the audience and this was one of the things that made it a great event. I would say that about half of the group were made up of students and the other half were community members and/or victims of serious crime. There were also people who work in the criminal justice system (e.g. corrections, probation) who attended and participated. The diversity of the group is what I had hoped for because I believe KPU should be a hub of discourse where this kind of important cross dialogue and diversity of perspective can co-exist and thrive.
That was a real highlight for me: that people chose to spend their Friday night listening to these powerful stories.
I also attended the National Restorative Justice conference in Ottawa. It was the largest restorative justice conference that Canada has seen with 380 people in attendance and many others on a wait list. I presented my doctoral research as well as a project I've been working on for 2.5 years to develop victim sensitive standards for restorative justice practice in BC. Currently, there are no standards of practice –so it is a bit of a free for all-- so I've been working to develop standards of ethical practice that make sure the needs of victims are taken care of.
And that ties in with our local event because the Friday event discussed the needs of victims and the Ottawa event focused on restorative justice as one of the ways such needs can be satisfied.