Events General News News Releases

Conference at CMU leads to formation of peace and conflict studies association

Emerging issues in peace and conflict studies, and the formation of a peace and conflict studies association in Canada, were the key topics covered at the first annual Canadian Peace and Conflict Studies Conference. Mennonite University (CMU) hosted the inaugural conference June 18-20.

More than 70 academics, students, and conflict resolution practitioners from across Canada gathered for a series of keynote addresses, panel discussions, and workshop sessions.

Conflict resolution academics and practitioners don’t often meet together, says Wendy Kroeker, one of the event’s organizers.

“Our vision was to bring those two groups together and talk about how we want to contribute to the Canadian and international context in what our fields can offer or assist with,” says Kroeker, who teaches Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies at CMU.

“Often we do things individually, so we were wanting a stronger voice to emerge for the national context. This conference was to initiate that space for folks around the country interested in these issues, to decide what kind of group, what kind of organization, we’d like to form going forward.”

Kroeker says that she and her fellow organizers wanted to include a variety of voices in the dialogues at the conference.

“We had a broad spectrum of people and we wanted to open up an invitational space,” Kroeker says. “We want to stretch the boundaries of the field to be accessible, provocative, and inclusive.”

The impetus for the conference was sparked in May 2014 during a meeting of academics from the field of peace and conflict studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.

The assembled group began inquiring if creating a Canadian peace and conflict studies association would be of interest.

A steering committee was formed and the first conference was organized.

On Friday, June 18, those assembled at CMU made the decision to put together an association in Canada for peace and conflict studies.

An interim board has been put together, with Dr. Timothy Donais, Associate Professor for Global Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, serving as interim coordinator. The board’s first meeting is scheduled for September.

In addition to the historic agreement, the conference included a keynote address by Dr. Christopher Marshall, Professor of Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. During his address, Marshall explored current trends in restorative justice theory and practice.

Dr. Jessica Senehi, Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manitoba, and Dr. Jean-François Rioux, Associate Professor in Conflict Studies at Saint Paul University, also delivered keynote addresses.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dean Peachey, Executive Director of the University of Winnipeg’s Global College, and Ruth Taronno, an International Development Studies instructor and Director of Practicum and Alumni Relations at Menno Simons College, kicked off the conference with a roundtable discussion exploring field/practicum placements in peace and conflict studies.

Anglophone and francophone academics from throughout western Canada and southern Ontario presented papers during the three-day conference, which also included a visit to the brand new Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Kroeker says she is pleased with how the conference went.

She and her fellow organizers wanted to allow for the possibility of relationship-building, and planned an academic conference that left plenty of time and space for registrants to mingle and speak with one another during breaks and mealtimes.

“Our focus was to get some cross-fertilization going, and people said we did accomplish that,” Kroeker says.

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over about 900 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

Events Lectures News Releases

Menno Simons College hosts insight mediation workshop

Addressing the complexity of conflict

The workshop “Practicing Insight Mediation: Helping Conflicting Parties Make Wise Decisions” will be led by Dr. Cheryl Picard, professor emeritus at Carleton University and principle of Cheryl Picard & Associates.

The workshop will take place May 6-8, 2015 at MSC and will be available for university credit or professional development.

Insights Workshop PosterInsight mediation is a style of conflict intervention that was developed as a result of collaboration between two Canadian scholars, Dr. Picard, Carleton University and Dr. Kenneth Melchin, Saint Paul University. They extensively studied successful mediation practice and applied ideas from Bernard Lonergan’s theory of insight to develop the insight approach to conflict resolution and mediation.

The insight approach addresses the complexity of conflict, including the role of emotion and the importance of values, through the integration of theories of social action with micro communication skills and conflict resolution strategies.

Participants in this workshop will be encouraged to re-think traditional ideas about conflict and conflict intervention as they are introduced to the idea that conflict resolution involves the production of new understandings that help conflicting parties identify and understand the threat experiences and defense responses that create and sustain conflict.

Emphasis will be placed on the development of skills to de-escalate threat narratives through the mediation dialogue as this can change problematic patterns of interaction and enable parties to find ways to either resolve their differences or to live more peacefully with them.

Dr. Picard is an educator, mediator, and conflict coach specializing in interpersonal, workplace, and community-based conflict for over 35 years. Dr. Picard brings a relational ideology to her teaching and conflict resolution practice, which means she views people as connected to each other through complex webs of relationships, patterns of interaction, and meaning-making.

For more information or to register visit

About Menno Simons College
Menno Simons College (MSC), a part of Canadian Mennonite University and affiliated with the University of Winnipeg, has been offering programs in International Development Studies (IDS) and Conflict Resolution Studies (CRS) since 1989. MSC fosters a vibrant undergraduate learning community in its newly renovated facility at 520 Portage Avenue. It offers 3-year and 4-year majors and a minor in IDS and CRS, an honours program in IDS, and an extensive practicum program. MSC has over 1,000 students and hundreds of alumni working in the development and conflict resolution sectors in Manitoba, Canada, and internationally.

For additional information, please contact:

Joel Marion
Menno Simons College

Events News Releases

Discussion event puts restorative justice under the microscope

Community invited to ‘grapple with some challenging and necessary conversations’

A Winnipeg police officer, an advocate for victims, and a restorative justice specialist from South Korea are the special guests at an upcoming Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) event focusing on restorative justice.

Clock-wise from top left: Bob Chrismas, Jae-Young Lee, and Lisa Phommarath

Bob Chrismas, Lisa Phommarath, and Jae-Young Lee are the panel members at CMU’s second Face2Face discussion of 2014-15. Titled, “Restorative Justice: Soft on Crime or Building Community Security?” the event takes place on Thursday, November 13 at 7:00 PM in CMU’s Great Hall (500 Shaftesbury Blvd.).

Admission is free, and everyone is welcome to attend. Face2Face is a series of conversations with CMU faculty and special guests designed to engage the community on a wide variety of current events and issues at the intersection of faith and life.

David Balzer, Assistant Professor of Communications and Media at CMU and one of the event’s organizers, says CMU wanted to host a conversation about restorative justice because educating for peace and justice is one of the university’s institutional commitments.

Recent political decisions around tough-on-crime policy were also on the organizers’ minds.

“There’s a seeming move to incarceration as an answer for how we make things right in the community when a wrong is committed,” Balzer says. “This event will put restorative justice under the microscope and ask: What does it have to say to us?”

face2faceThe November 13 event will explore questions such as: What roles do incarceration, punishment, and restorative justice play in building security? Is restorative justice effective in ensuring accountability for wrongdoing or violence? Are punishment and incarceration helping us to build more secure communities? How does our cultural context—whether Winnipeg or Korea—impact how we imagine responses to crime and wrongdoing? And, how does civil society connect with these concerns?

Lee, who is from Seoul, South Korea, works as a restorative justice specialist in schools, police stations, and regional conferences; Chrismas is a 25-year veteran of the Winnipeg Police Service who, in addition to his work as a staff sergeant, is currently working on a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies; and Phommarath is a victim of violent crime who has worked for several years with an inmate visitation program, as well as with Voices of Resilience, a support group for victims.

“I can’t wait to hear all three of these people present, because they are taking their ideas about restorative justice and putting them into action,” Balzer says. “They want to help bring people together in very broken places in the world.”

Wendy Kroeker, Instructor in Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies at CMU, will also serve as a contributor in this conversation, offering key definitions and frameworks.

After the panelists present, people in attendance are invited to join in the discussion by asking questions and sharing their own reflections.

“Our hope for this event is to create an open and authentic space for community members and invited presenters to grapple with some challenging and necessary conversations,” Balzer says.

“Restorative Justice: Soft on Crime or Building Community Security?” is the second of four Face2Face events CMU will host during the 2014-15 school year. For details, please visit

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences and social sciences, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury Campus and in its Menno Simons College and Outtatown programs.

For information about CMU, visit:

For additional information, please contact:

Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2