This year for RJ week we are shining the spotlight on our members and the valuable work that many of them do in the field of Restorative Justice. Our second blog comes from Margot Van Sluytman, an IARS Associate and very active RJ practitioner. Her lived-experience informs her greatly about justice advocacy, lectures, and writings. In her guest blog Margot reflects on a recent trip to London and her meeting with Marina Cantacuzino, founder of The Forgiveness Project. If you would like to find out more about Margot's personal experience you can access her recent feature in 'Toronto Life' here. 


Sawbonna and Stories for a Vengeful Age.

Margot Van Sluytman

When I sat down to be interviewed by Marina Cantacuzino, Founder of The Forgiveness Project, I did not know what I would discover about my journey; that journey I call: murder to meaning. I did not know that in sharing with Marina, I would come to the realization that I did not choose to use the "F" word, but rather that the "F" word chose to use me. I discovered that the intention I carried in my heart from the day my Dad, Theodore, was murdered, March 1978, to that very moment in November 2016 being interviewed, the notion of forgiveness was as a constant companion. On the cover of Marina's book, The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age, are actor, Emma Thompson's words, "...probably one of the most important projects in the world today." Yes. The project of sharing stories is an important one. After my conversation that stunning, sunny November day in London, UK, I left the tiny office where stories are sought, found, written, shared, and I walked down the street with a deep and profound awareness that it is indeed stories that sculpt us; stories that inform what constitutes our communities; stories that invite us into conversations with our very own selves about our meanings, our ethics, our morality. Our madness. Our joy. It is my belief that we are not naturally vengeful, rather that we are naturally protective and more times than not fear-full. Fear-full of rejection. Sawbonna offers acceptance. Sawbonna: I see you. Please see me. Sawbonna underscores and highlights our shared-humanity; Sawbonna reminds us that our lives, which are a fine and full fabric of stories, are scripts we can not always control, though our attitudes to those scripts can be proof-read, can be edited, can be re-storied. And in the re-storying we can infuse our relationship to Sawbonna/Restorative Justice's three values: Respect. Responsibility. Relationship. Sawbonna reminds us that our stories are part of a vast web of relationships, in which our script matters.

© Margot Van Sluytman


(Original Image accessed here).


Disclaimer: This is a guest blog and the views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the Institute’s views.