Annelies Bertsch (pictured on the right with Marielle Comeau) is a volunteer with the Peace Education Program (PEP) in Canada. In this blog she shares her perspective on presenting the program at the National Restorative Justice Symposium.

Two Canadian gals from opposite sides of the country—Victoria and Montreal—met in the middle of the nation for a very fine adventure! We were recently delegates and PEP presenters at the annual National Restorative Justice Symposium in the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Our two days there were jam-packed! Being in the company of such caring, committed, and experienced people who are working hard in the field of restorative justice to support individuals and communities resulted in an amazing time of learning and sharing for both of us.

Our 90-minute presentation went like this:

First, we gave an overview of PEP and showed the 10-minute video, “Peace on the Inside. Then we took questions.

For the second part we gave attendees a sample of a PEP workshop where we showed 37 minutes of PEP video material on the topic of choice, and had two reflection times. The nine symposium delegates who attended our session were very focused, shared thoughtfully during the reflection times, and seemed very appreciative of the workshop. Five people asked for copies of the “Inside Peace” documentary film about the influence of PEP on Texas inmates as they re-enter society. One of the attendees was the Superintendent of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band school division.

At our display table in the lobby, we gave out 40 brochures, 60 pens with the PEP website URL on them, and 50 business cards.

The First Nations’ presence at the symposium was strong, and this definitely and delightfully affected the feel and the content of the symposium. The MC, Simon Bird, was a very funny First Nations man who, among many other things, teaches Cree online, apparently very effectively and with a lot of humor. The keynote speaker, Waneek Horn-Miller, a Mohawk woman and Olympian athlete, did an amazing job of sharing the story of her life. Her story centered around her appreciation for having grown up as the daughter of a very strong mother. Another awesome speaker was the 35-year-old Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation who shared his story and insights with passion, intelligence, and humor.

More connections were made with this diverse group of attendees including:

• A youth caseworker with Street Culture in Regina

• The Assistant Deputy Minister of Courts with the Ministry of Justice in the Saskatchewan Government

• Restorative Justice volunteers from Kamloops, BC

• Delegates from Quebec working with Corrections

• Father Andre from Saskatchewan, who works with people who want to get out of gangs

PEP is of such excellent caliber that it was an honor to be a presenter, and to witness the power of the program as participants watched, listened, and responded so positively. Thanks to all of the donors, volunteers, and others who support peace education!

Watch this introduction to PEP to learn more:

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