As is our tradition, we curated our highlights of the year to acknowledge and invite you on our peacemaking journey. You can see our annual highlights since 2018 on our About webpage.

It was a tremendous year full of diverse, cross-sector Circles and momentum: facilitating the Restorative Collective and moving Vancouver forward in becoming a Restorative City, launching our inaugural restorative neighbourhood, and providing trainings with Carcross/Tagish First Nation, schools, and police.

We are excited to bring forward so much wisdom and partnerships.

May this year bring us healing, peace and closer together with mutual respect as we live into greater possibilities. We are grateful to be in Circle with you.

 

Peace Circle Trainings

Peace Circles are an intentionally designed and flexible process to connect, communicate and create change. Below you will find:

Peacemaking in Carcross/Tagish First Nation

It’s an honour to work with Carcross/Tagish First Nation, contributing to their peacemaking program. Dr. Evelyn Zellerer is a facilitator for the peacemaking ‘Foundations’ four-week course. She is also developing curriculum and facilitating the 2nd level peacemaking course.

It’s a privilege to also be in Circle and at times co-facilitating with Mark Wedge. Thanks Mark for being brilliant, humble, generous, and kind.

We gather deep in learning and practice in the spectacular setting of Haa Shagóon Hídi (Our Ancestors House), on the shore of Nares Lake in the Yukon. Please join us in congratulating all of the graduates! Learn more about Carcross/Tagish First Nation.

Restorative Practices in Schools

A whole school and district approach is required to successfully bring change in education through Circles and restorative action. We are grateful to be working with two school districts.

Sea to Sky School District

We applaud the Sea to Sky School District for stepping so mindfully and powerfully into Circles and restorative practices. Dr. Evelyn Zellerer facilitated multiple trainings and workshops. This included ‘Peace Circles: The Fundamentals’, ‘Peace Circles: Deeper Dive’, gathering of the expanding district circles team, and a School-Community workshop that brought together educational leaders and representatives from Child Youth Mental Health, Howe Sound Women’s Centre, RCMP, Vancouver Coastal Health, and Whistler Community Services Society.

It is special to be in Circle and creating with Indigenous educators and members of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and their Education Department. As a participant shared:
“This is progress. This is reconciliation.”

A big shout out, applause and gratitude for Cory Hartling for his amazing leadership in a new district position dedicated to this work.

Learn more about Sea to Sky School District.

Vancouver School District

We were thrilled to be invited to offer Peace Circles training with leadership of the Vancouver School Board (VSB). We spent three days together, Dr. Evelyn Zellerer co-facilitating with Norm Leech, Indigenous leader and founding Restorative Collective member.

VSB is a large multicultural school district with 107 schools and programs and more than 50,000 students. We applaud them for learning and implementing restorative practices. We are also grateful leadership is participating with the Restorative Collective. Learn more about the VSB.

Vancouver Police Department

Peace of the Circle was invited to provide training for an important new Restorative Complaint Resolution initiative of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). The process utilizes restorative circles for Police Act complaints, with an aim to come to meaningful resolution for the complainant and respondent police member.

We acknowledge all the police officers who came together with curiosity and openness to learn and move forward with implementation. A special thank you to Staff Sergeant Carla Baker of the Professional Standards Section for her leadership.

The training is facilitated by Dr. Evelyn Zellerer and Norm Leech.

This is also yet another powerful step forward in our bigger vision of Vancouver becoming a Restorative City, and we thank the VPD for their participation. Learn about the VPD here.

Restorative City included in City of Vancouver Strategic Priorities

Mayor and Council voted unanimously to include Restorative City initiatives as part of Objective 5 – Safety and Security within their 2023-2026 strategic priorities. We are applauding and celebrating!

We are grateful for the continued support of City Council and Staff.

A shout out to everyone who chose joy by showing up for work at City Hall in costume for Halloween! And thanks for welcoming Dr. Evelyn Zellerer to take this epic photo. Who says politics can’t be fun and productive?

 

Presentations to Mayor and Council

The coordinating team of Peace of the Circle continues to engage and build partnerships with City Council and Staff.  We are having many meetings and presentations.

Members of the Restorative Collective presented at the City Council budget meeting (Feb 28, 2023). Presentations were made by Norm Leech, then Executive Director, Aboriginal Community Policing Centre, Angela Evans, Chair, Business Improvement Areas Partnership Safety Committee (22 BIAs), Dalya Israel, Executive Director, Salal Sexual Violence Support Centre (formerly WAVAW), Dan Turvill, Executive Director, Strathcona Community Policing Centre, Gillian Lindquist, Executive Director, Restorative Justice Victoria, and Dr. Evelyn Zellerer, Director, Peace of the Circle. The recording of their presentations are available here (start at 3:57:00).

Multiple seeds of advocacy and possibility were planted, including an offer by Dr. Zellerer to facilitate a Circle with Council. Thanking Mayor and Councillors for their thoughtful questions. We look forward to next steps in further developing partnerships in collaboratively becoming a Restorative City.

Restorative Collective Meetings

We gather in Circle with food and in ceremony, building our relations, sharing our knowledge, visioning, strategizing and making choices about what’s next for our collaborative, co-creative journey. We had several Restorative Collective meetings throughout the year, with many special moments and celebrations of our progress.

One of the memorable, inspiring Collective meetings included choosing Hastings Sunrise as our first seedbed restorative neighbourhood. It was an extraordinary process of consensus decision-making, with listening and heart-centred inquiry that led to an unanimous decision even with several interested neighbourhoods (see below about this journey that has since begun).

Thank you Attorney General Hon. Niki Sharma for participating so powerfully in the latest Circle with our Restorative Collective! We also appreciate Councillor Lisa Dominato for joining us.

The Collective continues to evolve and grow. Our largest circle so far was with over 40 leaders from across multiple sectors. This included welcoming Hon. Joan Phillip, our newest Member of the Legislative Assembly and respected Indigenous leader. We thank Candace Woywada, Victim Services & Crime Prevention, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, for coming from Victoria to participate. We would like to share pages of naming people, especially those who continue to come every meeting!

Our heartfelt, deepest gratitude extends to each and every one who are coming together to collaboratively move Vancouver becoming a Restorative City forward.

Teachings from səl̓ilwətaɁɬ – Tsleil-Waututh Nation

It was an honour to have Councillor Charlene Aleck, Kayah George, and Andrew Van Eden from səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) share teachings and traditional laws with the Restorative Collective. It was a powerful, informative and emotional Circle that helped us continue to learn and move forward in co-creating a Restorative City with a strong relational foundation and commitment to decolonizing and reconciliation. Thank you again!

We recommend the new, already national bestseller book by Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and our Sundance Chief:

It Stops Here: Standing Up for Our Lands, Our Waters, and Our People” (2023).

Co-written with Michael Simpson, it’s a powerful and personal story of one leader on the front lines and the spiritual, cultural, and political resurgence of a Nation taking action in the face of colonization.

The Coordinating Restorative City Team

Peace of the Circle’s Coordinating Team grew dynamically! Creating a Restorative City, the first in Canada, is a massive, complex undertaking. To advance the movement, we have an experienced and gifted group of people. Our small yet mighty team is doing tremendous work behind the scenes every day including coordinating the Restorative Collective, relationship and partnership building, facilitation, education, capacity building, strategic planning, project management, and communications.

In addition to Founder/Director, Dr. Evelyn Zellerer, we are grateful to welcome and now work with:
Kayah George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation focusing on Indigenous Laws & Relations, Norm Leech leading us in decolonizing and trauma training, Michael Wiebe providing intergovernmental work, Tina Overbury and Zoe Gray for communications and social media, and Erin Leckie for operations.

We also appreciate the continued support and brilliance of Katrina Pacey, Gillian Lindquist, Colleen McCarthy, and retired Chief Justice Barry Stuart. It takes a village! Learn more about us here.

We are seeking a part-time Executive Assistant for administrative work. Contact us if interested!

Presentation at the Provincial Restorative Justice Conference

Norm Leech, Michael Wiebe and Dr. Evelyn Zellerer co-presented about Vancouver becoming a Restorative City during the Provincial Restorative Justice Conference hosted by Restorative Justice Association of British Columbia (RJABC). Their presentation was very well received!

We were delighted when Hon. Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, mentioned Peace of the Circle and our Restorative City initiative in his speech!

Dr. Evelyn Zellerer is proud to serve on the Board of Directors, RJABC. Stay tuned for details about the next provincial RJ conference in 2024.

Restorative City Framework Development

What is a Restorative City? It’s been a highly inspired time of visioning and co-creating as our Team, the Collective and working subgroups are collaboratively writing our Restorative City Framework. The Framework is also an implementation plan. We have identified 12 key areas for implementation with recommendations. We thank the City of Vancouver for their support to develop a Framework.

There is a lot of discussions and writing happening! We’ll share updates and our Framework with you when it’s available.

Restorative Neighbourhoods

Vancouver is made up of diverse neighbourhoods that experience varied and pressing challenges. Within the longer-term goal of becoming a Restorative City, the Collective came to a consensus to begin creating restorative neighbourhoods. Below you will find:

 

Grants Received: Launch of Hastings Sunrise Neighbourhood Project

Peace of the Circle is grateful to receive a Civil Forfeiture Grant from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to begin developing our first Restorative Neighbourhood in Vancouver! We also supported our partner Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House in receiving a City grant for this neighbourhood initiative. Thanking City Staff and Mayor & Council for your investment in this exciting project as part of becoming a Restorative City.

After Hastings Sunrise was chosen by consensus by the Collective, a small working group was formed and a Memorandum of Understanding signed between three lead agencies – Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, Hastings Sunrise Community Policing Centre and Peace of the Circle.

We celebrate taking pragmatic steps forward in implementing this part of our Restorative City Framework.

 

A Cohort Begins Training to Become Peacemakers

A fabulous group of people were chosen to become local peacemakers as first steps in creating Vancouver’s inaugural restorative neighbourhood in Hastings Sunrise. We hosted an orientation and development of a training curriculum for this cohort to build capacity to respond to local issues, conflicts and crime without involving the criminal justice system.

The first training series was about conflict resolution and communication skills, with Raj Dhasi over four sessions which focused on:
1) Self-awareness, self-regulation, trigger management
2) How to keep your cool as a facilitator
3) Understanding unconscious bias and privilege in facilitation
4) Navigating intense emotions and core skills, and how to bring it all together

Raj Dhasi is a private consultant and expert in conflict resolution, as well as a faculty member at the Justice Institute of BC. Thank you Raj for sharing your wisdom and experience for our exciting, inaugural journey!

The second immersive series of training was led by Norm Leech, about understanding and addressing trauma through an Indigenous, land-based, body-centred approach. Norm Leech is a Restorative Collective founding member, ED of Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, and Co-Chair of Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council. Norm grew up in East Vancouver, advocates for urban Indigenous peoples and is from T’it’q’et of the St’at’imc Nation. Thank you Norm for your wisdom, guidance and deep caring. Our peacemakers are so fortunate to learn from you!

This peacemakers cohort is looking forward to their next gathering and training with Dr. Evelyn Zellerer to learn the fundamentals of peace circles.

Meetings with SafeGgrowth for 2nd Neighbourhood, Strathcona

The second neighbourhood about to embark on its journey toward becoming restorative is Strathcona, led by Dan Turvill, Executive Director, Strathcona Community Policing Centre, and Vincent Kwan, Executive Director, Strathcona Business Improvement Association, with the support of Peace of the Circle.

An innovative methodology, SafeGrowth, is being explored that integrates community development and crime prevention to build safer and more livable neighbourhoods.

Various meetings over months and a jam packed week allowed members from the global SafeGrowth team to engage with our Team, the Restorative Collective and community partners. We participated in a three-day Summit, where we shared presentations, workshops, ideas, and new connections. We look forward to the next steps in our mutual commitment to reimagining safe, thriving neighbourhoods.

Dialogue and Partnerships with Political Leaders

We are grateful for all the political leaders who are welcoming us for dialogue and developing partnerships. We appreciate the interest, support as well as understanding of our need for funding to be able to advance the work of becoming a Restorative City.

A Restorative City serves us all, wherever you stand on the political spectrum. This is a powerful invitation and opportunity to come together across our differences.

We’ve had lots of meetings! Dr. Evelyn Zellerer and team colleagues Michael Wiebe and Norm Leech have met with and we thank First Nations, City, Provincial and Federal leaders.

We advocate for municipal, provincial and federal partnerships and financial contributions. Our Team is providing solutions and creating win-wins for all.

Highlights of meetings this year include:
• Premier David Eby
• Councillor Brett Sparrow, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), as well as Chief & Council
• Councillor Charlene Aleck, səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation
• Gursimran Gill, Public Safety Commissioner, and Donnie Rosa, Executive Director, Community Services, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation)
• Jessica Prince, Assistant Deputy Minister, Office of the Premier
• Hon. Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
• Hon. Niki Sharma, Attorney General of BC and MLA for Vancouver-Hastings
• Hon. Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
• Hon. Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation and MLA for Vancouver-False Creek
• Sonia Furstenau, Leader, and Dr. Lisa Gunderson, Deputy Leader, BC Green Party
• Joan Phillip, MLA Vancouver Mount Pleasant
• Taleeb Noormohamed, Member of Parliament, Vancouver Granville
• Jenny Kwan, Member of Parliament, Vancouver East
• Kimberly McClean, Executive Director, Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
• City Vancouver Councillors, including Lisa Dominato, Sarah Kirby-Yung, Mike Klassen, Lenny Zhou, Pete Fry and Christine Boyle
• Sandra Singh, Deputy City Manager, City of Vancouver
• Michelle Bryant-Gravelle, Senior Director, Indigenous Relations, City of Vancouver
• And More!!

Thank you one and all for engaging with us.

Celebrations & Resources

  • Dr. Evelyn Zellerer receives Restorative Justice Award from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
  • Publication is now available: “A Journey around Restorative Cities in the World”
  • An invitation to share your peacemaking and restorative news and stories

Dr. Evelyn Zellerer receives Restorative Justice Award from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

Join us in congratulating Dr. Evelyn Zellerer for receiving the Restorative Justice Award from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General!

A nomination letter included: “Dr. Evelyn Zellerer is a justice and peacemaking innovator. She is a visionary who in times of great unrest, continues to believe in humanity. She is the embodiment of activated hope… Every positive change begins with one person, and this is Evelyn.” She has been championing restorative and Indigenous justice for over 25 years, leading projects, facilitating, training, writing and presenting at forums including the United Nations.

Extending our congratulations to all the recipients of Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards 2023:

  • Angela Marie MacDougall, Award of Distinction
  • Debbie Klaric, Services to Victims Award
  • Gary Thandi, Safe Communities Award
  • North Okanagan Youth & Family Services Society, Youth Leadership Award

Publication: “A Journey around Restorative Cities in the World”

An anticipated publication is now available!
“A Journey around Restorative Cities in the World: a travel guide”, European Forum for Restorative Justice (2023)

This publication features 10 cities, including a chapter on Restorative City Vancouver co-written by Dr. Evelyn Zellerer and Norm Leech. You can download the PDF of this publication.

Dr. Evelyn Zellerer is happy to become a member of the Restorative Cities Working Group (EFRJ). Check out their website for more information and resources.

Acknowledging YOU!

While these are our peacemaking and restorative updates and stories, we know we’re not alone in bringing change.

We would LOVE to hear from you!

As our work and Circles continue to grow and gain momentum, we would love to also celebrate and uplift you with stories of peacemaking and living more restoratively. Please send us examples, news and stories with a link if you have one to a description, photo or video.

Our hearts are full with possibility, and you are a part of that.

With Love,
Evelyn and Peace of the Circle Team

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