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September 23, 2008


Margot Van Sluytman

Hello Wayne, and Other Readers,
I am the daughter of the man, Theodore Van Sluytman whom Glen Flett murdered. I am currently working on my MA Thesis, Sawbonna: Justice as Lived Experience, and find meat in this book for it helps to open a dialogue about restorative justice from theory to lived reality by all stakeholders. Glen and I use the word Sawbonna because it means "to see other," and to "be seen by other," not with particular outcomes based on religious precedents or the insistence of victims having to only know that they have found meaning, if healing, by striving for reconciliation and forgiveness. It is unfortunate that victims are still very much exempt from restorative justice conferences and talks unless they have some form of healing which means "caring" about the offender. In a powerful sharing with kindred, Howard Zehr, PhD, Howard wrote about something that Annalise Acorn is asking us to address, the notion of forgiveness, and which victims are in fact supported:
http://emu.edu/now/restorative-justice/2011/11/29/good-and-bad-victims/ The reason I value this book, is that it digs directly into content that is vital, if restorative justice is to grow, and become inclusive and to question who it invites to the dialectic and why. Neither religion nor forgiveness are the crucibles nor the contingencies upon which restorative justice need situate itself, and this from me, who is an Associate of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Sr. Helen Prejean's Community. A Sawbonna framework is not fearful of all manner of dialogue, which is an invitation to victims to understand that they do not have to own or live with "compulsory compassion," yet their voices matter. Though Glen and I were not invited to nor shared our encounter in a restorative justice framework, our choice and voice, and personal story and healing, speak to hope; NOT to proscribed polarities of do this or do that, or this is good or this is bad, but rather know that support is there, and that human beings matter. Restorative Justice does ask that we look at our small everyday deeds, as well as the big ones, and asks as well that we do not re-victimize each other, by pontificating, preaching, and pursuing limited and limiting language, contextualizing possiblity by looking for "bad guys," but by living with the chaotic, challenging, and necessary dialogue which must include, responsibility, respect, and relationship, even if that relationship is not with the man who murdered you Dad. My own Thesis is grounded by Autoethnography, which wherein lived experience speaks Sawbonna's willingness to engage in all manner of conversation. I value this book because it does not shy away from important questions, and even as I know that restorative justice, is in its infancy of of expression, I know too, that Sawbonna is its sibling, and that all questions must be engaged in, including why at a recent restorative justice conference the keynote speaker said, that forgiveness is a must! This is not restorative justice, but is indeed compulsory compassion, which serves only to alienate and exclude victims who feel betrayed, ignored, and judged. Not all of my family members require what I did, nor does all of Glen's family members need what we share. Must they? Some of this is covered in this book, and this is important to acknowledge, so that we do not set up more and more paradigms of the good vs. the bad, them vs. us; but, underscore a Sawbonna view, to seeing and being seen, and not seeing and telling what makes one better than another.
Here is a link to Glen and I sharing on CBC, December 2011:
http://www.cbc.ca/connect/2011/12/hard-time-syria-shadow-economy.html I am not finding this book a trial, I am learning a lot about why many victims are as yet very, very skeptical about restorative justice. BUT with tenacity and a Sawbonna heart and intellect, these can be overcome, and inclusivity is birthed.
Margot Van Sluytman.

Margot Van Sluytman.


Sawbonna: I See You. A Real Life Restorative Justice Story.
Foreword by Howard Zehr, PhD, Eastern Mennonite University.

From Sr. Helen Prejean, csj, Author of Dead Man Walking.
“In writing of her journey through grief, hope, and healing in Sawbonna: I See You, revealing the dialogue she shared with the man who killed her father, Margot Van Sluytman offers you a genuine and generous manner of how you too might navigate the seeming unnavigable world of life after violent crime.”

The Other Inmate: Meditating Justice-Mediating Hope. Poetry and Workbook for Restorative Practices.
(Available in English and French.)

From Reinekke Lengelle, Professor of Writing and Personal Development, University of Athabasca.
"The Other Inmate offers you an opportunity to open the doors to your own healing. Van Sluytman invites you to go beyond the entrenched concepts of what it means to be victim and perpetrator, offering a guide to use your own words to breakthrough the cycle of doubt and despair."

to dance with words, is to be nourished~mvs

Margot Van Sluytman

Clarification: I am the daughter of the man, Theodore Van Sluytman, whom Glen Flett killed.

David Rensberger

You state that "One of Mohandas Gandhi’s repeated statements was that it seems everyone but Christians knows Jesus was nonviolent," followed by a footnote number. Unfortunately, the footnote is missing! I see this statement cited often, but I wonder if you can supply a citation for it. If so, thanks; it will help in some research I'm doing.

valentine wairimu kuria

am ready to study with you

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