Peace of the Circle is proud to be the coordinating host organization of Vancouver becoming a Restorative City, the first in Canada!

In this post, we share lots of updates and highlights of our Restorative City journey so far in 2023. There is full forward momentum on advancing this work and facilitating the impressive, diverse Restorative Collective.

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Vancouver is the first city in Canada to commit to becoming a Restorative City!

Restorative City

A Restorative City expands beyond legal systems to implement restorative values, principles and practices across multiple spaces and sectors – neighbourhoods, schools, parks, housing, policing, governance and more.

A Restorative City addresses all forms of conflict, harm and oppression, and offers healing. It aims to create safety, healthy people, strong communities in vibrant, socially just environments.

It leads us toward a more interconnected city that is invested in uplifting the humanity of all people and creating respectful relations with each other as well as with the land, water and all our relations.

Restorative Collective Vancouver

Peace of the Circle has brought together an unprecedented team of diverse voices and wisdom from Indigenous-led organizations, service providers, Parks & Recreation, School Board, policing, courts, corrections, government, business associations and more. There are representatives from about 30 organizations, and the Collective is evolving and growing.

We host and facilitate regular meetings of the Restorative Collective using a peace circle process with Coordinator Dr. Evelyn Zellerer. We’ve been meeting for two years and have created a strong foundation.

This year, we continued our monthly meetings January-March to further deep dive into visioning and strategizing on how to become a restorative city.

As shown in the picture of circles connected by yarn, we identified sectors for implementation and subsections for our Restorative City Framework, including neighbourhoods, education, libraries, policing, a citywide restorative justice program and more.

During April-May, small working groups met to focus on collaboratively writing one specific area of our emerging Restorative City Framework.

We are currently immersed in writing our inaugural Framework. This is a main deliverable for Peace of the Circle’s contract with the City, which will be shared in fall 2023.

It was such an honour to have Councillor Charlene Aleck, Kayah George, and Andrew Van Eden from səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation share teachings and laws at our latest Restorative Collective meeting in June.

It was a powerful, informative circle gathering that helps us continue to collaboratively move forward with a strong relational foundation and commitment to decolonizing, reconciliation and Indigenization.

Watch a short video clip, which we posted on our social media.

We also welcome Kayah George to our coordinating team! She is a remarkable young leader, activist & matriarch-in-training, and lead for launching an important Indigenous initiative.

Learn about səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation from their website.

Building a Restorative Neighbourhood

The Collective came to an inspiring consensus to also build restorative neighbourhoods, another first in Canada!

Peace of the Circle received a grant from Civil Forfeiture, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General BC, to begin a project (2023-2024). The Collective chose Hastings Sunrise as our first neighbourhood.

Three lead agencies – Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, Hastings Sunrise Community Policing Centre, and Peace of the Circle – created a memorandum of understanding for implementation.

A cohort of local peacemakers will be identified and trained in the coming months.

We are also celebrating the approval of a grant from the City of Vancouver that will go to Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House. Thanking City Staff and Mayor & Council for their investment in this exciting initiative as part of becoming a Restorative City.

We applaud our colleague Dr. Theo Gavrielides for his vision of building the first restorative post-code in London, England. Looking forward to further exchanges and collaboration with the Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) International Institute.

Vancouver School District Leadership Training

Thanking and congratulating the leadership team of the Vancouver School Board for dedicating three days of learning Peace Circles with us.

Dr. Evelyn Zellerer is honoured to co-facilitate with Norm Leech, an amazing Indigenous leader and Restorative Collective partner.

We appreciate our host and representative of VSB on the Restorative Collective, Iqbal Gill. Stay tuned as the VSB with the Safe & Caring School Department becomes more restorative.

Read our prior blog on Education for links to lots of resources.

Equity, Restorative Justice & Respectful Workplace

A new Respectful Workplace Policy was just passed by City of Vancouver Council in June. The City’s inaugural Chief Equity Officer, Aftab Erfan, and her team provided an extensive review, report and recommendations. This is a call to actively create safe environments and a culture of care. A new restorative team is to be created and restorative options are to be offered for when harm occurs.

Dr. Evelyn Zellerer was happy to offer a brief speech to Mayor & Council in support of Aftab and this important work.

Celebrating another contribution and step toward becoming a Restorative City!

The full Equity Framework Implementation Update report and Aftab’s presentation as a PDF are available. You can also watch Aftab Erfan’s presentation to Council at City Hall, with subsequent discussion, on YouTube (June 28, 2023; from 19 minutes to 1:20).

Gaining Political Support

We are grateful for all the political leaders who are welcoming us for dialogue and partnerships. We appreciate the openness as well as understanding of our need for funding to be able to advance this work.

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

We’re having lots of meetings! Thus far, Dr. Evelyn Zellerer and coordinating team colleagues Michael Wiebe and Norm Leech have met with and we thank First Nations, City, Provincial and Federal leaders:

*  Councillor Charlene Aleck, səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation
*  Councillor Brett Sparrow, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), as well as Chief & Council
*  Jessica Prince, Assistant Deputy Minister, Office of the Premier
*  Niki Sharma, Attorney General of BC and MLA for Vancouver-Hastings
*  Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
*  Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, and MLA for Vancouver-False Creek
*  Taleeb Noormohamed, Member of Parliament, Vancouver Granville
*  Jenny Kwan, Member of Parliament, Vancouver East
*  Sonia Furstenau, Leader, and Dr. Lisa Gunderson, Deputy Leader, BC Green Party
*  Kimberly McClean, Executive Director, Policy and Strategic Initiatives, & Candace Woywada, Senior Policy Analyst, 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
*  Michelle Bryant-Gravelle, Senior Director, Indigenous Relations, City of Vancouver
*  Aftab Erfan and Sonmin Bong, Equity Office, City of Vancouver
*  City Staff, including Sandra Singh, General Manager, Wilma Clarke, Assistant Director, Mary Clare Zak, Managing Director, Sonia Bianchi, Senior Social Planner, Arts, Culture and Community Services

We advocate for municipal, provincial and federal financial contributions and partnerships. We are focused on providing solutions and creating win-wins for us all.

We are glad Niki Sharma, MLA, and Jenny Kwan, MP,  are so supportive of creating Hastings Sunrise as the first restorative neighbourhood which is their riding!

Speaking to City Council

We also continue to do outreach and build relations with our new Mayor & Council.

The Restorative Collective had 6 speakers present to Vancouver City Council at their budget meeting February 28, 2023. Our presentations were very well received and we thank Mayor and Councillors for their listening and thoughtful questions. Multiple seeds of advocacy and possibility were planted.

The entire Council meeting was live-streamed and available on Youtube. Tune in at 3:57:00 to hear Norm Leech, Evelyn Zellerer, Dan Turvill, Gillian Lindquist, Angela Evans and Dalya Israel here.

Dr. Evelyn Zellerer offered to facilitate a peace circle with Mayor and Councillors, to which they said yes! Looking forward to this being scheduled.

While the Restorative City initiative was not included in the City Budget 2023, we are proud of the Restorative Collective and our tremendous progress so far. We’ll need funding to continue and are advocating for inclusion in the upcoming City Budget 2024.

Provincial Restorative Justice Symposium

The Provincial Restorative Justice Symposium was held in June, hosted by Restorative Justice Association of BC. Dr. Evelyn Zellerer is proud to be a Board member.

Evelyn Zellerer, Norm Leech and Michael Wiebe gave a presentation about the Restorative Collective journey and Framework thus far. They were met with awe, encouragement, and great questions!

The symposium was a big success, with informative panels, presentations and workshops. We shared some highlights about Minister Farnworth, the power and possibilities of surrogacy in restorative justice, and Indigenous Justice on our social media platforms.

Hon. Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, mentioned Peace of the Circle and Vancouver becoming a Restorative City in his speech! It was wonderful to be acknowledged as a highlighted example of community safety initiatives. Evelyn briefly spoke with Minister Farnworth and we look forward to further connecting.

Funding is the single greatest challenge for restorative justice. We are grateful to hear the announcement of $3 million for restorative justice in B.C.

Restorative Cities Around the World

Our initiative is gaining international attention. Dr. Evelyn Zellerer was invited to become a member of the Restorative Cities Working Group with the European Forum for Restorative Justice. There are representatives from nine countries who have committed to a two-year term.

Thanking the EFRJ for inviting Dr. Evelyn Zellerer with co-author Norm Leech to meet and write a chapter. Vancouver is featured in an upcoming publication: “A journey around restorative cities in the world: the travel guide”, EFRJ (forthcoming 2023).

Some examples of cities also on a journey to become restorative include:

Leuven, Belgium
Canberra, Australia
Whanganui, New Zealand

Thank you for your interest and being part of our circle!

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Together we are stronger, wiser and create change.

with love and gratitude,
Peace of the Circle Team


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