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Introducing restorative justice

Mission author Elizabeth Elliott will be launching her new book

Mission resident Elizabeth Elliott is launching her new book, Security with Care, Restorative Justice and Healthy Societies, this weekend at the Mission Arts Centre.

It’s the first book of its kind outlining the basics of restorative justice and offering different ways to respond to social and criminal problems than what we are used to.

The system currently used was developed in the 19th century and all social institutions need to be revisited, given the enormous changes that have happened, said Elliott.

“Canada is one of the major world contributors to the re-emergence of these old ways of responding to harm in a community or society, and I felt that our story also needed to be told,” explained Elliott. “That said, the influence in the book comes more from west coast approaches to restorative justice, influenced strongly by the critical contributions of aboriginal traditions and beliefs, and the recent influences of Mennonite practices of conflict resolution.”

Elliott began noticing this movement when she was a criminal justice social worker in the 1980s, who felt the needs of those who committed harm and those who had been harmed were not being well met by the traditional system.

The concept was in the forefront in Howard Zehr’s 1990 book Changing Lenses. Up until that time, mediation had been used as an alternative to incarceration and a way to bring victims into the process more fully, said Elliott.

“The idea in Zehr’s book gave us a paradigmatic framework for the bigger picture, and so restorative justice finally took off.”

Elliott believes it is a better way for both parties in a conflict to heal and move on. She has also adopted the philosophy as a better way to raise children and build healthy communities.

The local author is also an associate professor at Simon Fraser University and has introduced restorative justice to her criminology students. She co-founded the School’s Centre for Restorative Justice in the late 1990s.

Elliott’s book can be purchased at Murdoch’s Book Shoppe on First Avenue and the Mission Arts Council on Saturday, May 7 where she will be signing books from 1 to 4 p.m. The Mission Arts Council is located at 33529 First Ave. There will be light refreshments and everyone is welcome. For more information call 604-826-0029.

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