Sep 282020


We have heard the demands in the street, watched horrifying videos, tracked Twitter, and listened to the news.       

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black American man, was killed by the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill.  This tragic event has ignited a movement brought on by centuries of inequality and injustice in the United States and in Canada. Canada is not exempt from incidents of excessive police force resulting in the serious injury or death of Indigenous and racialized persons:

Allan Adam in Fort McMurray (March 2020), D’Andre Campbell in Peel Region (April 2020),  Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto (May 2020), Chantel Moore in Edmundston (June 2020), Rodney Levi in Miramichi (June 2020), Ejaz Chaudhry in Mississauga (June 2020), and Evan Penner in Saskatoon (July 2020).         

Since January 2020, thirty people in Canada have died as a result of excessive force used by police. The CBC’s Deadly Force database confirms that Black and Indigenous people continue to be over-represented among police fatalities. The data also determines that mental health and substance abuse issues were present in the majority of cases.

Desmond Cole, activist and author of The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power says, “the difficult conversation for me – is racism isn’t about some bad feelings inside somebody’s heart, it’s about power.”      

Systemic racism encompasses far more than policing, and is found in child welfare, housing, schools, criminal justice, education, and many other places.                                                         

What are the alternatives? What steps can we, as individuals and a community, take to address the punitive and systemically racist justice system in Canada? How much change  is  society ready for? We at Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC), the peace and social justice agency of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Canada,  have been thinking about this a great deal  in recent months.

CFSC is offering a 5-part interactive webinar series on the topic of Shifting Punitive Perspectives. With the help of experts, people with lived experience, and Friends, CFSC will examine the impacts of the existing criminal justice system, possible alternatives and next steps.

Please be warned! This series is not as easy as logging onto your Zoom account a few times to watch a panel. We invite you to examine your own perspectives, preconceptions, and role in systemic racism. Difficult discussions may arise, and genuine desire to face some personal discomfort for positive change may be necessary. Like reconciliation, the path to accessing our own biases is truly a journey and will require work. We believe it is the only way forward. Are you ready to do the work?

Here is the plan:

September 20th INTRODUCTION, 7-9 pm EDT

Join us for a brief conversation via Zoom to get to know CFSC and find out more about the Only Way Forward series.  We will introduce you to the DO THE WORK Calendar of resources and invite you to a journey of self-reflection.

September 21 to Oct 19 DO THE WORK Calendar, 7-9 pm EDT

Roll up your sleeves and commit to spending a bit of time each day thinking about positive change! Companion Facebook Page and options to share feedback will be provided.

November 5 IMPACTS, 7-9 pm EDT

An expert discussion on the impacts of a punitive mindset on society.  How policing and prison affect racialized communities disproportionately, but also society as a whole.

November 12 THE ALTERNATIVES + STORIES OF SUCCESS, 7-9 pm EDT                                   

A panel of presentations and expert discussion on alternative forms of policing and prisons that have been successful. What are they and why do they work?

November 19 WAYS FORWARD, 7-9 pm EDT

A discussion on actionable steps to achieving possible alternatives.

What needs to change and how do we make it happen? At national, regional, municipal, local and individual levels?


Optional follow-up session to share updates (how are we doing?), ask more questions, share ideas…

Are you ready to do this work?

Register here:

The webinar series is FREE and open to all.

All panels and discussions will be hosted on Zoom.