President’s Dream Colloquium on Returning to the Teachings: Justice, Identity and Belonging

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Photos by Rick Magnell: Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society Art Camp, Riske Creek/ Williams Lake Summer 2016. See: LINK

From President’s Dream Colloquium on Returning to the Teachings: Justice, Identity and Belonging:

“Justice, identity and belonging are central indicators of health and well-being. Founded on the ideal of a pluralistic society, Canada faces significant equity challenges in upholding the health and well-being of a diverse range of social groups.

This is particularly true for First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples, who face disproportionate challenges within Canada’s education, health, economic, environmental and justice systems. These institutional pillars tragically have failed to serve the Indigenous Peoples of this land, for by holding up the State, the strength of these institutional pillars has weakened the cultural and relational roots of ancient worldviews, wisdoms and traditional societies.

Through ceremony, public lectures and dialogue, this President’s Dream Colloquium will cultivate an ecology for “a new way forward.” The intention is to create a rich experience of knowledge mobilization, diverse community engagement and capacity building for a new vision. The colloquium is born out of our right to dream for the rights of future generations, and for us to reimagine and enact a new reality for them.

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Confirmed Speakers

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Check out Vancouver Sun:

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Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, O.B.C. is a hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation near Alert Bay and a co-founder of Reconciliation Canada. HANDOUT/ PNG

“As a young man, Robert Joseph, one of the hereditary chiefs of the Gwawaenuk First Nation near Alert Bay, found himself in the depths of despair — until an epiphany changed his life. Today, he is a noted First Nations leader who co-founded Reconciliation Canada…” Read more: VANCOUVER SUN


Williams Lake/ Punky Lake Summer 2016 Art Camp Diary- Part 6: the photographer



Part 1: Preparation

Part 2: Travel

Part 3: Art Camp Day 1 

Part 4: Art Camp Day 2

Part 5: Art Camp Day 3

Part 6: Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society Summer 2016 Art Camp- the photographer

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What a treat it was to be joined by photographer Rick Magnell of Magnell Photography on Days 1 and 3!

Rick Magnell.  Photo by Jana Roller


As this is a wheatpaste project developed from my initial obsession (that began in 2012) with the street artist JR…

I knew the Punky Lake project had to include photo portraits.  Rick was THE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPHER for this purpose!  He not only has a profound gift for the visual but also a demeanour that makes even the shyest participant at ease in front of the camera!


He also has an ability to go with the flow!  It was only Day 1 and we were all just getting to know each other, but Rick managed to take EXTRAORDINARY portraits of the participants and support staff.  I am BLOWN AWAY by the beauty of these faces as captured by Rick.

I will let Rick explain:

Sarah Jackman from The Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society offered me the opportunity to photograph the Journey and Mind Mapping Art Camp with Kat Thorsen. My first task was to head out to the Old Training and Recreation Complex in Riske Creek and take portraits of all the youth and adults involved in the camp and have 8×10 prints made. The prints would then be cut out and become part of the mural project with in the gymnasium. Once I got there Kat had already got the group to all sketch pictures of raccoons and after lunch started teaching the group how to sketch anatomical hearts. These would all get incorporated in to the mural. Everyone was great, of course you get the few shy ones but we managed to get them in front of the camera.” – Rick Magnell





Day 3 was where I brought out the 8×10’s to be wheatpasted on the mural and documented the rest of the day. The day concluded with a closing circle where everyone shared their thoughts about the art camp. Two of the youth were presented drums along with Kat who received a drum herself as thanks. Elder Gary finished the circle with a drumming song. Gary has some incredible stories, I did approach him to see if he would be interested in my Story project. Overall it was a great group and a great experience for myself to photograph. I appreciate the opportunity and it was great to meet Kat and everyone else involved in the project.” – Rick Magnell


… the power of paper and glue… – JR

Thank you Rick for making the art camp extra-special!  I look forward to drawing all the participants from your photos! 


I want to thank and acknowledge the Toosey (Tl’esqox) and Tsihquot’in First Nations, Old School Training and Recreation Complex and Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society (Sarah Jackman, Samantha Dick, Bruce Baptiste, Ann Guichon) for hosting the Summer 2016 Art Camp. I also want to thank and acknowledge the elders, the chef, the photographer, the chaperones, youth workers and the participants!

Check out:

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Williams Lake/ Punky Lake Summer 2016 Diary- Part 3: Day 1



Part 1: Preparation

Part 2: Travel

Part 3: Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society Summer 2016 Art Camp Day 1 

Executive Director Sarah Jackman picked me up this morning…

… and drove me through extraordinary scenery…

… to the Old School Training and Recreation Complex in Riske Creek.

First days are always about gaining trust and reading the room and getting a feel for the dynamic of the group.  As this is a group art project that starts from scratch (the end goal is a collage wall of participant drawings), it may be hard for the students to understand what I have in mind.  But these courageous and hilarious kids worked SO HARD!  They created countless drawings and tomorrow we cut out the first batch and do a test wheatpaste.

I was joined by Punky Lake staff and several chaperones (and I am very grateful for these individuals’ support and participation throughout the day.)

We started the morning with an introduction by Bruce Baptiste, followed by smudge, song and drumming by Elder Gary, and housekeeping rules (the kids are staying at the centre this week).

I introduced my drawing techniques with a raccoon drawing:

We were joined by photographer Rick Magnell who took incredible pictures of the participants for both adding to the wall: JR style(!) and for references for me in order to gift everyone with handdrawn portraits! (These will be completed once I get home and mailed to Punky Lake!)

Photo by Rick Magnell

We worked on a journaling technique and then drew anatomical hearts- definitely messy hands time and faces!

We chose a wall and the day continued with personal drawings and doodles as well as an empowering body mind and spirit talk from Gary as students drew. 

Sleep well kids!

Williams Lake/ Punky Lake Summer 2016 Diary- Part 1: Preparation

Recall Williams Lake/ Punky Lake Summer 2016 Diary- Preview:

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I’m keeping a diary and will try to post at the end of each day. Today in Part 1, it is about preparation:


As much as art and connection are part of the 3-day intensive, I also want to incorporate life skills in a natural way.  One of those life skills is project planning.  On Day 1 we will be mind mapping an action plan as a group.  I want this to be youth-led, so my role as facilitator is to create a safe and dynamic space/environment.  Of course, I have a plan and agenda in case there needs to be a nudging in order to achieve the goal, but as much as possible, this is the overall vision is that of the participants.  By mind mapping together, the participants will experience project planning in a tangible way, and my goal (part of the longevity piece) is that they put that experience into their personal tool kit.  .

I practice what I preach.  I am spending this weekend preparing for the trip.  Making checklists, packing, mind mapping out some curriculum and action plan, researching, and looking to other creatives for inspiration.  For example:

Thomas Kail of Hamilton Joins Prof. Dolly Chugh’s Managerial Skills Course:

As a facilitator, I have to have a plan, an agenda-free agenda if you will.  I also have to be flexible and in the moment, ready to throw plans over the shoulder and let the experience and group dynamics lead.  Plan, be ready, RELAX, have FUN!

“Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box.”
― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life


Group mind mapping: RJ as a pedagogical tool @SFU


On March 30, 2016, I took the  Criminology 315 (CRIM 315) students at the Simon Fraser University Burnaby Campus (teacher: Associate Professor and director of the Center for Restorative Justice, Brenda Morrison) through an in depths mind mapping process as they reflected on their understanding and learning during the course.

CRIM 315 is designed to contrast restorative justice with the dominant adversarial/retributive/punitive model of justice through a critical analysis of these two paradigms of justice. Several key principles, assumptions, and concepts necessary for understanding the foundation and practice of restorative justice are explored during the course.

This particular group of students has been focusing on restorative justice within the educational setting (from theory to practice to social echo). My role as  guest teacher was to engage the students creatively and to discuss my restorative art-based practices with at-risk youth, young offenders and fragile populations.

I was delighted to have my former student, now colleague, Miko Philip participate as co-facilitator during my session.  I shared my own restorative practices and successes within the secondary school setting through the lens of  Miko’s personal experiences. Miko spoke openly about her time Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary School, her personal struggles, her transformative experience in the summer of 2015 in the Inside Out Project at Mountainside Secondary, and her current powerful and life-changing studies at Rhodes Wellness College.

But before we began the mind mapping segment (outside in the sun), Brenda discussed delicious items for the students to keep in mind:

Pedagogy– how do you achieve educational outcome?

• Discipline of the circle 

Declare mission (versus declaring major)

• What does the circle add to higher learning?

• What is your discipline beyond criminology?

• Theory/Praxis/Practice

• Social Echo

• Justice/identity/belonging

Spiral of Inquiry: Scanning, Focusing, Developing a Hunch, Learning, Taking Action, Checking.

Capturing dialogue and participant voices is such a treat and I love how the whole brain is engaged by the group.  Students can see the process unfold and gain new insights and perspectives as a result.

At the beginning and part way through the afternoon, I utilized a couple of my favorite Lynda Barry exercises to cleanse our brains!

To really start the process, Miko asked the students the big question: What is Restorative Justice?  Not so easy to answer it turns out!

We started with one word reflection per participant, then the students broke off into groups to create a sentence answer.


What is Restorative Justice?

An opportunity to grow as a person when you have done something wrong in a way that is rehabilitative rather than punitive.

A value based philosophical framework guiding a rehabilitation process.

An inclusive approach to learning that emphasizes passion, respect, empathy, positivity, and acceptance in a safe and productive environment.

A values based approach to building community by empowering stakeholders.

We then discussed what identity and belonging means to each participant to enrich the exploration:


Relationship based, learning from each other, growth, supportive community, different way of learning, listening skills, equal opportunity to talk, accepted and not judged, having a place, empowerment, voice, equality, spend time in a place despite being uncomfortable, inclusivity, understanding (less about knowing), safety, community (actions affect others), non judgmental, ontological security, transparency.

Groups then shared their reflections on the mind map on social echo:


The effects of stereotypes and perceptions; igniting your inner passion to make a change; being an agent of change; individual and collective; whatever you take from it; expanding knowledge; being a voice through which knowledge can be carried to a broader audience.

We ended with a circle reflection!

Huge thank you to Miko Philip for being so open and enriching our day so much.  And thank you to Brenda Morrison, Cristina Serverius and the students who participated to willingly!

Check out Brenda’s recommendations:


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Sock monkey with hummingbirds #craftivism 

“If the hummingbird shows up in your life as a spirit animal, it may remind you to enjoy life’s simple pleasures and take time to enjoy yourself.

The hummingbird’s wisdom carries an invitation to take part in and draw to you life’s sweetness, like you would drink the nectar of your own flower.” [source]

My latest hand-sewn sock monkey is made from luscious high quality “Sock it to Me” socks covered in hummingbird designs.

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The monkey is adorned with 4 little hummingbirds made from glove fingers.


The monkey measures 13 inches (33 cm) tall. The hummingbirds measure about 1.5 inches (4 cm).

It makes for an excellent “talking stick” or talisman during circle dialogues.


My sock monkey creations are all about local and global art initiatives and craftivism.

The hummingbird holds deep meaning within my local restorative justice community as it illustrates that, though small, you can make a big difference, a small step at a time.

“I am doing what I can.” – Dukdukdiya, the hummingbird

You can read more about my craftivism and hummingbirds at:

This one of a kind sock monkey is on sale (and ready to ship) on my ETSY site:


Proceeds from this sock monkey helps me provide free sock monkey therapy for local at-risk youth.

#200sockmonkeysforNepal project by Vancouver craftivists and students and staff at Mountainside Secondary, North Vancouver!

Love, Kat

See you at:

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Shaking the Movers- a safe space for youth to have a voice.


I was so honored to participate (as art facilitator) in the 9th instalment of Shaking the Movers yesterday!   Shaking the Movers, founded by The Honorable Landon Pearson, is a profound process that supports youth in making powerful recommendations around children’s rights using their own voices.

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Shaking the Movers:
The Shaking the Movers conferences are two-day workshops that allow children and youth to prepare comments and recommendations for governments and civil society with respect to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  Shaking the Movers provide a unique opportunity for child and youth to exercise their right to take part in important civil and political processes with the assurance that their voices will be heard and listened to. 

Shaking the Movers: A Model for Collaborative Consultation with Children and Youth on Public Policy documents the work and can be adapted for any situation in which collaborative consultation with young people is vital for the elaboration of effective public policy (pdf report).

The various articles of the CRC covered in past Shaking the Movers events include: 
I. Speaking Truth to Power: Civil and Political Rights of Children (2007) on Articles 12 “Right to Participation”, Art. 44 “A State’s Obligation to Report Back to the United Nations”, Art. 24 “The Right to Health” and Article 19 “Protection from Violence and Abuse” (pdf report); 
II. Identity and Belonging (2008), Articles 29.1.C and 30 (pdf report); 
III. Child Rights in Education (2009), Articles 28, 29 and 42 (pdf report);
IV. Children and the Media (2010), Articles 13, 16, 17, 34, 36 (pdf report);
V.  Youth Justice (2011), Articles 37 and 40 (pdf report);
VI. Mental Health (2012), Articles 23 and 24 (pdf report). 
VII. Right to Play and Artistic Expression, Article 31 (pdf report)
VIII. Child Exploitation, Article 34 and 36 (pdf report)

The Landon Pearson Centre designed these events to provide a space for children and young people to “have the floor”, to present their unique perspectives and experiences, and to provide specific recommendations and input related to four themes identified for the conference. While there are adults who do attend the workshop, they are there simply to listen and hear the recommendations made, to be a resource, to provide support to youth participants, and to ensure that the workshop took place in a safe and comfortable setting.  The outcomes, priorities and ideas presented by young people at the workshop are written up into summary reports by theme. Senator Pearson has made it her primary objective to ensure that the reports reach the hands of the “movers” in Canada, and that they respond. All reports and responses are public documents.

This was the first Shaking the Movers outside of Ontario.  I was initially approached by Brenda Morrison from the Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University.  Brenda gathered a group of facilitators mainly comprised of SFU students.

Brenda Morrison, Simon Fraser University (far left) with the Honorable Landon Pearson (far right) and the Shaking the Movers facilitators (left to right): Precious, Phil, Christina, Kat, Virginia, Joel, Suza and Leanne Atkinson (beside Landon) the youth outreach worker and host at Guildford Youth Resource Centre, Surrey BC.  Not shown but integral to the process: Ruth Morrison and the Equitas International Centre for Human Rights Education team.

The facilitators and youth outreach workers then identified youth ages 14-22 to participate in two 2-day sessions (June and September) to dialogue and create recommendations around the theme of Sexual Exploitation.

September session participants
September 21-22, 2015 session participants

My role was to help the youth create art to enhance their work.


The recommendations and the art were then presented to stakeholders as a celebration/presentation:


A particular gem: Make us RIGHT smart




The youth so obviously had an amazing experience.

Everyone had a spark in their eye, a smile on their face and warmth in their heart.  A truly inspiring experience for all involved. – Brenda Morrison

They exuded enthusiasm, inspiration, connection and love.  INCREDIBLE.  The central piece that came out of this session was the need to educate youth and children on their rights in a profound and meaningful way.

Next steps?

  1. The results will be published on November 19, 2015 in the Canadian Journal of Children’s Rights.
  2. The youth who participated will create a youth leadership skills program at the Guilford Youth Resource Centre and hope to train to facilitate their peers and to expand their work.

It was deeply moving to hear how much the youth were impacted by the program.  – Laura Mack, stakeholder

I brought along a sock monkey as a talking piece.  It was a hit (not surprising as those sock monkeys truly are peacemakers) and it was presented to the Honorable Landon Pearson by one of the participants as a thank you.


Two heroes: Leanne Atkinson, youth outreach worker with Pacific Community Resources, who ensured youth participation, and the Honorable Landon Pearson, founder of Shaking the Movers.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: