Peace House: Gather to Provoke Peace

15267660_1825578554390031_2086327291522150179_n.pngPeace House is a monthly event hosted by MCC Alberta, a non-profit organization that works in relief, development and peace around the world. It is a growing community of young adults who care about social justice and gather to be inspired, encouraged and educated on different issues. This event generally happens on the last Friday of every month and is free to attend. We usually meet in the MCC Alberta office on 32 street NE. There are also free lattes and snacks. You are welcome to come as often or seldom as you like, and we would love to hear what kind of topics you would be interested in discussing.

On any given evening we will be listening to speakers, watching documentaries, sharing music and stories and more! So far, we have learned about MCC’s work in refugee sponsorship, watched documentaries on minimalism and masculinity, and participated in a Blanket Exercise (a teaching tool on Canadian history from the Indigenous perspective).

At our last Peace House, we gathered around a campfire at Sandy Beach Park to hear from Trish Elgersma. Trish works with RAFT (Restorative Actions For Transformation), a partner program of MCC that provides restorative justice services. Whenever possible, RAFT facilitators bring youth offenders, their victims, and relevant community supporters together in a circle to talk about what happened and move towards healing. In this process, the victim is given a chance to share their story, to tell the offender how the offense impacted them and have that impact acknowledged. The youth has the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and offer some form of response to address the harm that has been caused.

This process is not a guarantee, but as long as it is safe and respectful it often creates a powerful space for learning and change. Trish told us that some of the best circles are the ones that she is the most worried about. It can seem impossible that these individuals could find reconciliation after what has transpired. And yet, as the stories are told and hurts are acknowledged, things begin to look differently and people start to shift. Trish said that sometimes she can physically see the change in youth throughout the circle – he or she goes from being slouched and looking down in shame to sitting up straight, smiling, and making eye contact with the other people in the circle. Restorative justice is not easy but it can provide an opportunity to go beyond retribution and find healing.

You can learn more about the RAFT program here and you can read stories about other MCC Restorative Justice programs here.

You can also like our Facebook page here to receive updates about our upcoming Peace Houses. The next one will be in September and we will hear from Alex Awad, former dean at Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem about the Palestine & Israel conflict. Hope to see you there!

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