Restorative justice conference on tap later this week at Haskell; full list of speakers and performers available

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Osceola and Keokuk halls are pictured in the background at Haskell Indian Nations University on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

A restorative justice conference will take place at Haskell Indian Nations University later this week, and the full list of speakers, panelists and performances for the two-day event has been announced.

As the Journal-World reported last month, the City of Lawrence, Explore Lawrence, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice, the organization Life Comes From It and mediation and conflict resolution nonprofit Building Peace are partnering to sponsor “Growing Restorative Communities: Cultivating Change by Tending our Roots” on Haskell’s campus Thursday and Friday. It’ll be focused on restorative justice, which is based on mediation and agreement rather than punishment, in schools, the judicial system and in communities.

Back in early May, only keynote speaker Robert Yazzie, Chief Justice Emeritus of the Navajo Nation, had been announced. But since then, conference organizers have released new details about others who will play a role. That will include a trio of Indigenous peacemakers — Cheryl Demmert Fairbanks, Lisa Ka’illjuus Lang and Rainey Enjady — who will be the featured panelists along with Yazzie in a discussion scheduled for the first day of the conference.

Presenters for Friday’s breakout sessions include folks like parenting coach Cynthia Corn-Wattree, restorative justice strategist Gregory Winship and Sheryl R. Wilson, executive director of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College. The full list of breakout session presenters is available on the conference website.

Lawrence mayor Lisa Larsen, who works as a mediator with Building Peace, is also slated to deliver opening remarks on Thursday.

As for performances, a street opera called “The Return” was commissioned especially for the event and will feature diverse actors, dancers, musicians and storytellers. The performance was written and adapted by Kristen Chibitty, the founder of the Ste. Genevieve Theatre Guild, and will be directed by Ric Averill, the Lawrence Arts Center’s artistic director emeritus of performing arts.

Chicago-based restorative justice organization Circles & Ciphers will also perform on both days. The youth-led organization uses restorative practices, mutual aid and expression through hip-hop music to help young folks experience leadership opportunities and work toward abolishing the prison industrial complex.

The registration form is still open on the conference website. The registration cost is $10 for students and $80 for all other attendees. The street opera performances are free and open to the public.


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