rabble radio episode 162: Restorative justice -- what it is and isn't

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Photo: Esther S./flickr

Halifax has been in the news over the past few months, and it's not been good press. We're talking about the infamous case of the so-called "Dalhousie Gentleman's Club" where mysogynistic and sexually violent comments were made by 13 male students in the Faculty of Dentistry on Facebook.

The story is no longer front-page news, but there were, and still are, a number of controversial issues that arose from the university's handling of the case.

The university's solution was to deal with the issue through restorative justice. Moira Donovan is an an intern with the rabble podcast network. She also wrote a compelling article for rabble.ca exploring the question, what is restorative justice? Today on rabble radio, we're handing the microphone to Moira as she introduces us to some of the answers she's found.


Fia Jampolsky, a Whitehorse-based lawyer whose work in Legal Aid and Yukon Human Rights Commission has drawn on the principles of restorative justice.

El Jones, Halifax’s Poet Laureate and a PhD student and faculty member at Dalhousie. She's also a prison rights activist who works with incarcerated individuals in Nova Scotia. She discussed the systemic racism in the justice system and how restorative justice was used at Dalhousie to maintain the privilege of the 13 students involved, when in fact restorative justice, or as she calls it "transformative justice" is an important tool to acknowledge and address the marginalization of communities of colour. Being a dentist, she points out, is not a right, and a career is not more important than the lives and safety of women. 

Sue Goyette, a Halifax-based poet. She's also being trained as a facilitator to work with young offenders who've opted for the restorative justice process. Sue discussed the role of both of art and restorative justice in allowing people to have their stories heard, the role of listening and empathy in healing, and how art offers an opportunity to mend social wrongs by providing an avenue for people to experience vulnerability. Art, she says, teaches us to be better people, and provides a way to move forward in a direction that we haven't envisaged before. 

Read Moira Donovan's article for rabble.ca,  "Because Dalhousie: A Closer Look at Restorative Justice."

Photo: Esther S./flickr

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