A year after Liz Elliott’s death, a Tsleil-Waituth Nation elder guided a traditional naming ceremony for a totem pole honouring the Simon Fraser University criminology professor and Mission resident at the university’s Burnaby campus.
Colleagues, family and friends gathered at the pole at the School of Criminology’s entrance for last Friday’s ceremony, which included a performance by the Tsleil-Waituth Children of Takaya dance troupe.
A plaque citing a “Declaration of Spirit” was also unveiled, telling the pole’s story and how it represents Elliott.
Ferndale Correctional Institution inmates carved the totem pole last summer for Elliott, a restorative justice pioneer who succumbed to cancer last fall at age 54. It was raised at SFU last December.
Elliott spent more than 30 years working to promote and apply restorative justice practices in correctional facilities, volunteering much of her time. She was well known and respected by inmates and staff and inspired many others.
Criminology professor Brenda Morrison, who co-directed SFU’s Centre for Restorative Justice with Elliott, says the centre continues to expand its range of work and number of correctional facilities, building on Elliott’s legacy.
The centre is bringing the U.K.’s Music in Prisons program to several Lower Mainland correctional institutions this fall as part of a two-day restorative justice and performing arts conference beginning Nov. 30 at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.
Meanwhile, three awards have been created in honour of Elliott. The SFU Hummingbird Awards — named after a favourite story of Elliott’s that is also reflected in a hummingbird atop the totem pole — will be presented at the annual Liz Elliott Memorial Lecture during Restorative Justice Week, Nov. 18-25.
They will be given to recipients who:
• engage students in critical thinking and knowledge about restorative justice through transformational learning opportunities and community engagement;
• engage research that builds a solid foundation of, and continuing commitment to, fundamental research in the area of restorative justice;
• engage communities in developing the knowledge and practice of restorative justice, to develop healthier and more vibrant communities, particularly in the aftermath of harm.
The awards are open to all B.C. residents and will be presented annually to individuals or groups who meet the criteria.