The Bowen couple will walk around Lake Killarney to seek justice on June 26

If you’re wandering around Lake Killarney on Sunday June 26, you’ll likely encounter islanders Brenda Morrison and Lisa Holland somewhere along the loop. Over the past two years, these islanders have spent a day at the end of June touring Killarney six times as part of a fundraiser for North Shore Restorative Justice (NSRJ).

Morrison has been walking for this cause for well over two years, but Covid gives him a reason to talk about the work of the organization and about restorative justice itself, here on Bowen Island.

Holland is one of NSRJ’s longest serving volunteers. “I started volunteering at the NSRJ 15 years ago because she was intrigued by restorative justice as an alternative to the criminal justice system,” she says.

“As a volunteer animator, I have seen people repair their relationships with their neighbours, others have learned life skills and repaired the harm they have caused. The restorative justice process can be used in any type of conflict when the offender takes responsibility for their actions. All parties involved can move forward.

Morrison, director of the Center for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University, adds that “rj” is based on traditional practices that Indigenous peoples around the world have used to heal their communities after suffering harm.

Over the years, the community of Bowen Island has benefited from the NSRJ by participating in its restorative intervention program which diverts criminal cases from the courts to the community.

“Legal proceedings steal the voices of those most affected, victims become mere witnesses to their own crime,” says Morrison. “And we know that for every dollar spent on restorative justice, eight dollars are saved in the criminal justice system.”

Island youth also participated in the NSRJ’s Youth Justice Lab. These labs teach young people interpersonal skills, conflict resolution and project management. The original lab in 2020 led to the development of a Youth Justice Council that focused on learning about decolonization and presenting that learning through free online workshops.

Donations made to this walkathon will go directly to these programs. Online contributions can be made at nsrj.ca/news/join-our-2022-walk-a-thon

If you’re just up for a walk and find out more, head to the lake on June 26.

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