Community Engagement

Restorative Justice Club supports training opportunities for students

August 14, 2020
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SFU’s Restorative Justice Club recently fundraised to send a group of high school students to teach a training session on restorative justice at Harvard University.

The students belong to the Academy of Choice in Houston, Texas, a small public high school with a population of at-risk youth. Anita Wadhwa, the school’s leadership teacher, instructs students at the Academy how to resolve conflicts on campus using restorative justice processes.

Wadhwa is an expert on restorative justice, critical race theory and the school to prison pipeline. She’s connected to SFU through Professor Brenda Morrison, who served on the supervision committee for Wadhwa’s doctoral thesis at Harvard University, and is Director of SFU’s Centre for Restorative Justice.

The students attended the Alumni of Color Conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to help teach conference participants what they’ve learned about the restorative justice process through a role-play scenario.

At the Academy of Choice, interpersonal conflicts between students and teachers, and among students themselves, are addressed using peacemaking circles. Peacemaking circles are a form of group dialogue that seeks resolve conflict by encouraging accountability and providing support for amends.

“We chose to fundraise to send a group of Anita’s students to Harvard to provide the students with a unique opportunity to share what they’ve learned,” said Christina Ma, a founder of the Restorative Justice Club and an undergraduate student in the department of economics.

 “Some of her students are at-risk youth who were once part of gangs and are now helping other students resolve conflicts and repair relationships among rival gang members, or sometimes their work involves resolving conflicts among ex-boyfriends and girlfriends.”

A key goal of the Restorative Justice Club is to bring awareness and provide training opportunities for students who desire to be facilitators in justice processes.  The Club raised enough community funds to first send students to Harvard in February 2014. This year, the Club contributed to the group’s trip through individual donations. They hope to continue to support the group yearly in some capacity.

About the Restorative Justice Club

Dayna Northwood, Sam Purton and Christina Ma founded the Restorative Justice Club in 2014 to promote and advocate restorative justice values and mechanisms.  

“Christina took our foundation course in restorative justice (Crim 315) as her breadth course. That particular semester SFU was participating in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and Reconciliation Canada events. Inspired by the course and the reconciliation activities, Christina and the other students founded the club,” said Morrison.

The Club believes in applying restorative justice practices to all forms of conflict, and to use peacemaking circles to encourage community building. All interested students are encouraged to join the Club.  Club members will receive 50% off Centre for Restorative Justice training courses happening this spring.

For more information, please contact the Restorative Justice Club at rjclubsfu@gmail.com.