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Donald R. Sobey Foundation funds International Restorative Justice Lab at Dalhousie U

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Generous support from the Donald R. Sobey Foundation has enabled   Dalhousie University to launch the first ever international Restorative Research, Innovation & Education Lab (RRIELab).

And the RRIELab now has a fully funded Chair in Professor Jennifer Llewellyn, a distinguished global leader in restorative justice. 

Professor Jennifer Llewellyn

“On behalf of our entire Dalhousie community, I would like to thank the Donald R. Sobey Foundation, for their generous support of the RRIELab and to Professor Jennifer Llewellyn, for her ground breaking work in restorative justice,” says Dr. Deep Saini, president of Dalhousie University.

“I am deeply appreciative of the work of the Donald R. Sobey Foundation and Professor Llewellyn who is making a vital contribution here in Nova Scotia, and internationally, to ensure a restorative approach to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community. This is especially true at this time as we reflect on and respond to the unjust racial tragedies experienced by black people in North America and beyond.”

The lab will accelerate the growth of restorative justice practices to help transform the justice system in Canada and build just relations among people, groups, and nations for safe, healthy, and just societies.

Restorative justice is a human-centred approach to justice that is focused on understanding and responding to impacts and needs of affected individuals and communities. This proactive and future focused approach brings people together to find meaningful and lasting justice solutions. The RRIELab will be a global centre of excellence, located at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. As an incubator for innovation, the initial focus of the lab will be on accelerating the growth and development of restorative justice as a key component to transform the justice system in Canada; supporting the development of restorative cities around the world; and responding to institutional abuses and failures.

“The need for restorative justice is not new, indeed systemic and historical injustices mark the experience of marginalized and racialized communities around the world. In this moment in our history, as we confront the pandemics of COVID-19 and anti-black racism, we can see clearly that our current ways of doing things are not working,” said  Llewellyn. “The urgency of a new and different way of imagining and doing justice – doing right by each other – cannot be allowed to pass by this time.”

The RRIELab will support justice transformation in communities, systems, institutions, and organizations across Canada and beyond.

“The establishment of the RRIELab will position Dalhousie and, indeed, Nova Scotia, to become a global centre of restorative approaches to justice,” said Rob Sobey of the Donald R Sobey Foundation. “Our foundation is incredibly inspired by and proud of Professor Llewellyn’s leadership. Advances in this field are needed now more than ever. This visionary work will now have a true home in Nova Scotia where it can be nurtured and grow to support international needs and focus areas.”

An international subject matter expert in the area of restorative justice, Llewellyn has advised governments and NGO’s and supported many governments, projects and programs including the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Jamaican government, the government of New Zealand and the United Nations. Her world-renowned expertise resulted in her appointment as an expert on the UN mechanism to review the UN Basic Principles for the Use of Restorative Justice in Criminal Matters. Additionally, Llewellyn facilitated the design process for the first ever restorative public inquiry (into the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children) and served as a Commissioner for the Inquiry. She previously advised the Assembly of First Nations and Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the response to Residential School abuse.

Recognized for her contribution in the field of restorative justice, Llewellyn was awarded the National Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award from Correctional Services Canada in 2015 and was the 2018 recipient of the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council National Impact Award, the highest award for research achievement and impact in Canada.