It has become a tradition in Canada since 1996 to host Restorative Justice Week during the third full week in November, and for the past 15 years to celebrate the week with a National Restorative Justice Symposium. Every year, the event is hosted by a different community-based agency in a different location around the country. This year's event takes place November 17-19 in Toronto, Ontario, hosted by YOUCAN and The Canadian Safe School Network.
Dave Fraser, Director of Special Projects & Social Media at the Canadian Safe School Network, the co-chair of the event, said, "The National Restorative Justice Symposium is an important and valuable annual event that brings together members of the RJ community from around the country – both those who have been involved in the field for years and relative newcomers. In an evolving and organic field like Restorative Justice Practices, which is having such a positive impact in so many parts of Canada, it’s so important to bring people together for sharing and knowledge exchange.
"We hope this year’s event will both honour the roots of RJ traditions and practices as well as speak to our theme of 'Inspiring Innovation,' as we work together to develop new and modern ways to incorporate restorative practices into the daily lives of our delegates and community."
The keynote speakers for the event include Dr. Martin Brokenleg, co-founder of the Circle of Courage and consultant for Reclaiming Youth International, a group providing training worldwide for individuals who work with youth at risk. There will also be a keynote panel, featuring Janet Briggs, Restorative Justice Manager for the Government of Nova Scotia; David Daubney, General Counsel, Criminal Law Policy, Justice Canada (Ret.); and Bruce Schenk, Director, International Institute for Restorative Practices – Canada.
Schenk said, "I see the panel, and the entire event, as an opportunity for all the participants to really get a sense of the breadth of what’s happening with restorative practices. What started very much as a restorative justice conference 15 years ago, within the criminal justice movement, has evolved along with the whole field and really exemplifies the theme of innovation. It’s moved so far from being just a restorative justice-based program to really impacting communities around the world, to help people move from disconnection to more healthy community."
Schenk is part of the organizing committee that is in the process of selecting a slate of 32 workshop presenters. He is pleased to see that there are applicants not only from across Canada, but also a handful from the United States.
Co-chair Dave Farthing, Executive Director of YOUCAN, a youth organization that for the past 17 years has focused on developing conflict resolution skills and restorative justice for youth in schools and prisons, won the 2005 Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award, which is presented every year at the Symposium. He is excited to partner with the Safe Schools Network for the first time and organize this conference around the theme of innovation. While his Ottowa-based organization mostly does trainings across Canada, Farthing mentioned that YOUCAN also has project in Edmonton that infuses peace circles and other restorative practices into employment programs and outreach for high-risk youth. YOUCAN aims to set up other offices to provide these kinds of direct services in the coming years.
"The Symposium is a unique opportunity to bring together a lot of the people supporting great work across the country who don't often get the chance to get together, as well as introducing people for the first time who don't know each other. We want to really celebrate the incredible work they've been doing over the past decade as well as the work yet to come."
Visit http://nrjs2013.com/ for more information and to register for the Symposium.