TRU to host Restorative Justice Symposium

TRU will play host to a symposium about an emerging issue of the modern justice system later this month. TRU’s second annual Restorative Justice Symposium will take place on Nov. 13.

The goal of the event is to educate people about why restorative justice is important and why it should be used more often, according to Kayla Morrison, a fourth-year psychology student and one of the symposium’s organizers.

“I was one of those people who thought restorative justice is soft on crime. I realized that I was ignorant about it and it can be pretty beneficial,” Morrison said.

Restorative justice brings together the offender, the victim and the community allowing everyone involved to learn and grow as a result, according to Morrison.

The event at TRU is part of the larger Restorative Justice Week that is held worldwide from Nov. 15–22. According to Correctional Services Canada, the goal of the week is to promote a “non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes healing in victims, accountability of offenders and the involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities.”

The symposium at TRU will feature keynote addresses from TRU faculty members Alana Abramson and Dona Lemieux, both of whom are trained restorative justice practitioners. There will also be a guest address from Marlyn and Ian Ferguson, who experienced restorative justice firsthand after their son was murdered. After the formal speeches, there will be smaller group “circle discussions” moderated by the organizers and guest speakers.

According to Morrison, the circle discussions are an aspect of restorative justice that comes from aboriginal practices, and their inclusion in the symposium is important to staying true to restorative justice’s roots. Morrison described the circle discussion she experienced during her restorative justice class as “spiritual.”

The symposium is open to everyone. The ticket price is $50, or $15 for students, elders, the unemployed and retired people. Tickets are on sale in Old Main on Nov. 3, 4, 9 and 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Last year’s symposium attracted 75 attendees, and Morrison said they are hoping for at least 100 this year.

According to Morrison, the benefit of attending the symposium is acquiring knowledge directly from people who have experienced restorative justice firsthand.

“If you are someone who has been affected by crime it may also give you more tools and different outlooks that might help you heal and move forward,” Morrison said.