Alumni Transform Conflict with Restorative Justice

A path to peace, responsibility and healing, rooted in relationship, spreading peace and justice across communities—Grebel alumni have many words to describe the positive impact of Restorative Justice (RJ). Alumni Mark Yantzi (Sociology) and Kimberlee Walker (Peace and Conflict Studies), and Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) alumni Laurel Boytim, Christian Fox, Rod Friesen, and Issa Ebombolo all graduated from Grebel with an interest in RJ and a goal to improve how communities work through conflict.

Mark Yantzi


Mark Yantzi was integral to bringing Restorative Justice formally into Canada’s justice system. He graduated from the University of Waterloo in 1969 with a degree in Sociology. While working as a member of the probation office in 1974, Mark and fellow probation officer Dave Worth facilitated the first successful meeting between young vandals and their victims in Elmira. Instead of receiving a prison sentence, the teenage offenders took accountability for their actions and worked toward healing and restoration of relationships, and thus an RJ movement in Waterloo Region was born. Mark became the founder and first Executive Director of Community Justice Initiatives (CJI), which is a non-profit organization known worldwide for its innovative restorative responses to harm and conflict. Read full article.


Kimberly Walker


Kimberlee Walker graduated in 2012 with a PACS degree. In 2011, Kimberlee became a founding member of Theatre of the Beat, a touring theatre company inspired by RJ principles that works to start conversations on social justice in communities, including a drama program with inmates in the Grand Valley Institute for Women. “We have witnessed significant participant growth in building skills in teamwork, collaboration, and conflict resolution, which contributes to the forging of a prosocial identity,” Kimberlee reported. Read full article.


In 2012, Grebel launched an MPACS program that focuses on the pivotal role that individuals within civil society play and the potential of civil society to advance peace through principled advocacy, effective programming, and dynamic engagement with the state and marketplace.

Laurel Boytim


Laurel Boytim (MPACS 2019) is very active in helping to heal communities. In her spare time from teaching, she volunteers with the John Howard Society, helping develop an initiative that aims to educate frontline police officers and implement pre-charge diversion programs for people who struggle with substance use. “These aren’t just people who are breaking the law; these are people that need to heal or need help or support in their healing,” Laurel explained. She uses RJ principles in her everyday work to help build relationships with clients and repair the relationship clients have with themselves. Read full article.


Christian Fox


Christian Fox (MPACS 2015) currently works for the Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Centre as a Conflict Resolution Service Facilitator in Toronto, where the focus of his role is to help mediate neighbour disputes. He finds that taking the RJ approach is the best way to solve these disputes. “Once you can get disputing neighbours to a point of willing to have a conversation, then they can work on any issue,” Christian explained. Read full article.




Rod Friesen (MPACS 2013) has worked with Mennonite Central Committee Ontario since 2017. He oversees several service delivery and Restorative Justice-related projects in his role as Restorative Justice Program Coordinator. “Essentially, our work is about addressing harms and meeting the needs for all,” Rod reported. “In this process, those who have caused harm can take the opportunity to repair the harm caused as much as possible or permissible.” Read full article.




Similar to Rod, Issa Ebombolo (MPACS 2017) works for Mennonite Central Committee Zambia and Malawi as a Peacebuilding Coordinator, where he provides peace resourcing. Recently, Issa created a Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding unit within the correction department of the Zambia Correctional Service. He has written modules to teach in-service officers and personally trained qualified instructors to extend the benefits of Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding skills across Zambia. Read full article.

While these six Grebel alumni work with different clientele, they all share the same dream—to improve communities and the lives of people harmed by conflict, and the principles and values of Restorative Justice have helped them to do just that.