Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Restorative Justice's: respect, responsibility, relationship, within the crucible of Sawbonna's: I see you, invites all manner of conversation. Each of us, practitioners, professors, poets, students, mentors, researchers, who have interest in and passion for justice as a lived and living experience, invite rich opportunities to learn with, from, for, and because of each other. At one of the two restorative justice conferences I attended in June, I received a powerfully rich experience.

At breakfast on the final day of the conference there was conversation about what being "safe" in the context of restorative justice settings means. The essence of Sawbonna permeated. What I learned is that not everyone feels "safe" in those settings; and, that not everyone feels "unsafe" in those settings. Crucial is what experiences we each bring to the content and contexts from our personal and political selves when we enter the space for conversations.

Conversation about anger, rage, anguish, terror, frustration, being silenced, being judged, silencing, judging, as well as conversation about hope, possibility, truth-telling, resilience, reconciliation, arose. None of these conversations, we shared, happen in a void - when we  sit alone, we are in relationship and conversations occur in our minds and hearts.

At breakfast, in the terrain of companionship,  the word and definition of companionship derived from the root, com: with and pan: bread, we broke bread in the literal and figurative act of seeing and being seen, of listening and being listened to. I learned what it is I mean when I use the word safe and I learned what others mean when they use the word safe.

I had always thought that I knew the definition of safe. What I  knew was a definition based on my experiences and learning.

To be part of a context of community that wishes to dialogue from and because of the values of: respect, responsibility, and relationship, within the crucible of Sawbonna's: I see you, offers hope. At times the tones of voices in those conversations are raw-angry, at times the tones of voices are brutal, at times fingers point. Bodies are taut. But hope, because of solidarity to our shared-humanity, permits the conversations to occur. Permits the emotions. In fact, invites them.

Hope created the seemingly impossible fact of healing and friendship with Glen Flett, who took my Father, Theodore's, life. Hope nourished Justice Murray Sinclair, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela, whose voices in the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions is Canada and South Africa, continue to mentor us. We are safe because we yearn to connect. Because we care. Sawbonna speaks hope.

​​CBC Radio, Halifax, Nova Scotia, June, 2016: Sawbonna-Restorative Justice is on the rise in Canada:


  1. Margot, how you keep expanding your understanding of your experience benefits us all.

  2. Well put, Brenda!! Yes, Margot, thank you for sharing your experience and learning and inviting me to expand with you. It is wonderful that these dialogues are happening and that you are part of them and bring us along.

    1. Finding and being nourished by, with, and because of the kindred, even when we have different experiences and views, is so very powerful.

      I really appreciate what Howard Zehr shares here, in a recent piece, "...deep learning experiences are rarely safe; indeed, I would argue that the most profound learning often occurs in uncomfortable, even threatening, situations."

  3. I find this journey "from murder to meaning," within the crucible of poetic justice, to be one where I continue to learn, to grow, to benefit; AND, I value the supportive words from those who also journey the liminal.