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Elmira to play host to interfaith family violence prevention event

Woodside Bible Fellowship in Elmira will be playing host to the local interfaith community Apr. 6 for the Let There Be Light Conference.

Organized by the Wilmot Family Resource Centre in coalition with Woolwich Community Services, the event focuses on family violence prevention.

Wilmot-Wellesley Family Violence Prevention Program Coordinator Karen Dymond said the conference will include keynote speaker Mark Yantzi, a restorative justice pioneer, and 10 workshops designed to give pastors tools to help congregation members.

“The workshops are really designed to be filed with practical information,” Dymond said. “It’s a day filled with resources and the chance to connect with people who work in community agencies.”

The workshops cover a variety of topics, with each presented in a different way to engage participants in their area of specialty. A workshop on teen violence will include subjects of interest to youth ministers, while the workshop on elder abuse will feature a less conventional presentation.

“Elder abuse will feature the Harmony Interactive Theatre Troupe and a healing circle demonstration,” said Dymond.

The traditional healing circle will demonstrate a form of mediation and discussion adapted from aboriginal customs. The circle, which has proven useful in other cultures, is being seen more frequently in restorative justice programs designed as an alternative to the court system.

“Restorative justice really considers various perspectives and really we wanted to be able to recognize the challenges and complexities that come from that.”

Although the session will demonstrate justice alternatives, Dymond doesn’t want to discourage the use of the court system.

“It’s not about saying ‘no, don’t go to police,’” she said.

While the event focuses on learning about aspects of family violence, Dymond said the day will be about connecting community faith leaders to local resources and each other rather than making participants experts in dealing with abuse.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity for dialogue and discussion and learning from each other,” she said.

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