On November 12, 2017 close to 100 people gathered to commemorate MCC Alberta’s 35 years of involvement in Restorative Justice. Starting in 1982 with the M2 Prisoner Visitation program, MCC Alberta’s involvement grew to include Support for Families of Prisoners, Victim Offender Mediation in Edmonton, Community Chaplaincy (with ex-offenders), Life Line, Community Conferencing, and CoSA (Circles of Support and Accountability).
Program name changes over the years also reflect changes in direction, focus, and priority. M2 became M2/W2, then Community Justice Ministries, then Restorative Justice Ministries, and now MCC RJ. Through all of these changes, MCC has provided a home, administratively and philosophically – a place where program participants feel comfortable, and a place where staff are encouraged and supported in their work.
Keynote speaker Senator Kim Pate spoke passionately about her experiences over her career as she has been drawn to speak about injustices in the justice system. She encouraged MCC for the work done over the past 35 years but also noted the need for continued work in speaking out for those who remain oppressed, mistreated, and marginalized.
In particular, Senator Pate highlighted the importance of organizations like MCC speaking out on issues related to Aboriginal over-representation in prisons, and particularly the plight of aboriginal women.
This celebration, while honoring activities and individuals involved over the years, served as more of a springboard to the future – highlighting the importance of continuing involvement in Restorative Justice. In his response to Senator Pate’s presentation, MCC Canada RJ Coordinator, Randy Klassen, expressed the hope that in the coming 35 years, the words restorative and justice would be more and more commonly used together - that the vision for hope and healing at the root of restorative justice would become the experience of victims, offenders, and communities impacted by crime.