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The creative edge of restorative justice

From little things big things grow

Researcher

Brenda Morrison

SFU Affiliation

Director, Centre for Restorative Justice

Areas of Research

Restorative justice, social justice, creativity, education, health, environment, equity, diversity, inclusion

The theory and practice of restorative justice is a field rich in abundance and creativity. My work lives on the creative edge of restorative justice. While the genesis of restorative justice is situated in criminal justice, the ripple effect has taken restorative justice into education, health, environment and beyond.

"From Little Things Big Things Grow" (Paul Kelly, 1991) rippled into the Australian soundscape and beyond, beginning with the line "Gather 'round people and I'll tell you a story." Storytelling is a powerful methodology of restorative justice, and its inherent ripple effect that began with a small yet powerful idea: shifting the lens of justice (Zehr, 1990). The 1990s were a powerful time of changing the paradigm of justice. Through this powerful metaphorical lens the Centre for Restorative Justice is working on a range of initiatives.

  • Knowledge creation through the creative edge of film and visual storytelling with one of our most vulnerable Canadian populations, incarcerated women. There is power and resilience in listening to the stories of these women. We have created a interactive online documentary, "The Circle," as part one of the project; we launched the documentary at the National Restorative Justice Symposium in November 2020.
  • Listening to Country with incarcerated Indigenous women in Australia. Working with Indigenous Elders and Scholars, along with new methodologies, we are better understanding the soundscape of belonging through the practice of Dadirri—deep listening. This project is on COVID hold, but we have published one paper: "Weaving our Narratives: Amplifying the social echo of restorative justice through the arts." Click here to learn more about Listening to Country.
  • Creating a Youth Justice Lab with a community-based restorative justice NGO and a range of social justice thought leaders. We have a report available on the outcomes of our first youth justice lab and the idea is rippling into school communities on the North Shore.
  • An innovative collaborative project on restorative health care, deepening the Hippocratic oath: Do no harm. This project is just being launched. A similar project has already been completed in New Zealand, with one of our collaborators.

Each of these projects is opening new ways forward in deepening the relational ecology of individuals with themselves, their families, their communities and our institutions.

Click here to watch recordings from the November 2020 National Restorative Justice Symposium (co-hosted by the Centre for Restorative Justice), including workshop sessions on the Centre's Listening to Country, Youth Justice Lab and The Circle initiatives.

At the core of restorative justice is the idea that equity, diversity and inclusion are important. We create safe spaces where voices are heard, particularly for marginalized communities and individuals. I am currently the editor of an encyclopedia on the intersection of restorative justice and social justice. Equity begins with being heard.

About the Researcher

Brenda Morrison

Brenda Morrison (she/her/hers) is the Director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Restorative Justice. She is a social psychologist with teaching, research and field experience in outdoor education, governance and justice. She has worked on restorative justice initiatives in Canada, Australia, the US and Brazil. She serves on working group summits for BC’s Justice System for the 21st Century, led by BC’s Attorney General’s Office. In her home community, she is an active board member for the North Shore Restorative Justice Society.