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


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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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:


Craftivism: Operation Sock Monkey’s Hummingbird Project

Today I worked with a group of Operation Sock Monkey craftivists to create hummingbirds for a very special cause.  Over 5 hours, we created 40 little hummingbirds‬ for the Liz Elliot Memorial Ceremony and Potlatch happening on September 11, 2015 at the SFU Centre for ‪Restorative Justice.

SFU criminologist Liz Elliott, who was a champion of restorative justice, is honored during the raising of a totem totem created by inmates at Ferndale Correctional Institution in Mission. It now stands in the School of Criminology. – source

The hummingbirds created today are gifts for the special ceremony in September.

Huge thank you to Laura and Spruce Harbour Marina for hosting and to my sweet craftivists: Lenore, Lynn, William, Brenda, Laura!

A special thank you to Operation Sock Monkey founder, Lindsey Hodgson, for supporting this project as well as our 200 Sock Monkeys for Nepal Project.


It took me awhile to work out the design but in the end, I chose gloves as opposed to socks and I am really happy with the outcome!



We all had a fabulous time creating them!

Craftivism = healing!





The hummingbird has a deep significance to Liz Elliot, to restorative justice and to all of us today.


You may recall that I spent a beautiful morning with Brenda Morrison and her students teaching a 4th year Criminology class with Laura Mack at SFU on February 23, 2015.

The lovely egg above was a gift from Brenda- made by “lifer” at Ferndale Institute.  It features a hummingbird with the word “spirit.”

In October 2014, Brenda gave me a beautiful book from another SFU class: The Flight of the Hummingbird. The theme of the book is the power of taking small steps to achieve a big goal:

“I am doing what I can.” – Dukdukdiya  

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