This post is about 700 words and can be read in 3 minutes.
Margot Van Sluytman is a well known Canadian advocate for restorative justice, based on her experience following the murder of her father. She recently posted this moving commentary on her journey, which speaks so well to the ways in which we could think about responding to crime and supporting victims of crime.
No! Closure, as in “get over it” and “move on” do not exist for me.
What it does mean is keeping my promise to my Dad, Theodore, a promise made at his casket. He was brutally murdered in a callous and selfish act of greed on Easter Monday, March 27, 1978, in Scarborough, Ontario. He was 40 years; my Mom was 36. My siblings and I ranged in age from 5 to 18.
My promise to my Dad that his death would not be in vain means that each and every day that live, I work with kindreds: family, friends, colleagues, community, on re-languaging justice, on re-storying, and restoring lives. Lives of those who have lost homes, lost community, lost focus, lost vision, lost voice, lost passion. Lost the knowledge that we can and do make a difference.
Hell! Can we!
One week after his funeral, my siblings and I returned to school.
Our grief counselling consisted of: “Only the good die young;” “God knows what God is doing;” “Have faith.” “Your late assignment is due now.”
When I was 18, I swallowed a bottle of pills, deciding that I could no longer walk with the savage ache. Laying in Scarborough General Hospital, just a short distance from the morgue in which Dad’s body lay for over a week after his murder. I tasted hell in my body. My stomach pumped, I promptly returned to school.
Precious few supports are available for victims and survivors of crime.
Without supports, the on-going cycle of anger, pain, mental health issues including addictions continue and are passed down to other generations.
The Theodore Van Sluytman Healing Home for Crime Survivors
Closure now includes working with family, friends, community, and colleagues on The Theodore Van Sluytman Healing Home for Crime Survivors.
With your help, life CAN be so different for many Canadians, survivors of serious crime.
I am reaching out to you to share your ideas, your knowledge, your yearnings with me.
In my talks, lectures, workshops, writings and publications, including upcoming: The Hague, London, UK with The Forgiveness Project & The Initiatives of Change, as well as my work here in Alberta, and with my Global Citizenship students at Centennial College in Toronto, I advocate for, address justice policy, resilience, therapeutic writing, voice, and agency.
“Will you be a pioneer in this important work to create a home for crime survivors and help fund the The Theodore Van Sluytman Healing Home for Crime Survivors,” is the question I posed to Canada’s new Justice Minister.
firstname.lastname@example.org is my email address.
Please feel invited to contact me with your ideas in support of The Theodore Van Sluytman Healing Home for Crime Survivors.
My time here has been another rich blessing; of connecting with kindreds, colleagues, and community, who continue to fire, inspire, and motivate me to continue to keep my promise. At the very same time from Ontario, and across Canada, generosity and wisdom come.
One word sits in my heart at the very same time as I grieve and miss my wonderful Dad. That word is: Gratitude. Yes! Gratitude.
Sawbonna asks no less. Sawbonna invites closure. My “Victim Impact Statement,” as you might guess, is rather truncated.
I lost my home when my Dad was murdered. I suspect as my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Reinekke Lengelle, has shared, that the home that is calling out to me, is something bigger, different, and connected to Easter Monday, March 27, 1978.
The home that I have been seeking since I was 16 years of age, is reaching out to me. Reaching out in the form of my promise being kept.
Theodore is a Grand-Father and a Great-Grand-Father.
Theodore is loved by my Mom, she was 36 years when he died a new immigrant to Canada.
Theodore is loved by his children and his siblings.
That is Grand-Children and Great-Children know him, fires and infuses my everyday.
Re-storying life after brutal crime is possible.
AND, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu said to me when I asked him in Cape Town, in our two hour conversation how he kept his faith though all that brutality, “Margot, I didn’t. My family, friends, community helped me when I could not do it. I did not do it alone.”
Posted by Margot Van Sluytman