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Changes at the top of Comox Valley’s Community Justice Centre

In the 25th year of the Community Justice Centre, there is significant change coming at the top.

In the 25th year of the Community Justice Centre, there is significant change coming at the top.

The Honourable Timothy Ray has assumed the presidency of the board of directors and Karen McKinnon is taking on the role of managing director of the Centre.

Ray was elected at the annual general meeting in late November and is taking over from Sheila McDonnell following the conclusion of her two-year term. Ray is a retired judge of the Ontario Superior Court and a retired member of the BC Law Society.

Outside of his commitments to the Justice Centre, he is an active bagpiper with the Comox Valley Pipe Band, serves as a member of the parish council at St. John the Divine Anglican in Courtenay, and is a member of the Anglican, BC Diocesan Council.

Ray brings a passion for good governance and a compassionate and proficient restorative justice system operating in the Comox Valley. He has served on the CJC Board since November 2020 and for two years as vice-president.

In the coming months, CJC will be emphasizing the work of its dedicated volunteers.

“They are the heart and soul of our organization and the work they accomplish if of the highest standards in Restorative justice in this province, and indeed this country,” Ray said. “Without the voluntary contributions of our over 100 volunteers, the CJC couldn’t operate as efficiently and as effectively as it does.”

Joining him on the CJC executive team is Katie MacLauren as vice-president. She is the program manager for Youth Forensic Psychiatric Services at the John Howard Society. Judith Marriot is staying on as treasurer and is department chair in the Faculty of Business Administration at North Island College. The new board secretary is Mackai Sharpe. He is a recent high school graduate, film-maker, and social activist. He currently works as video technical advisor to the students of the Youth Media Project at the Comox Valley Art Gallery.

McKinnon joins the team

On the operational side of things, CJC is delighted to welcome its new managing director, Karen McKinnon. She will begin her work on Feb. 1, 2023 with a two-month transition mentorship by chief administrator, Bruce Curtis.

McKinnon comes to the CJC from her position as director of community engagement and family services at Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North and prior to that as director of family services. She is a highly sought-after photographer and has won numerous accolades for her community leadership and photography work. She has been an active volunteer with many local social service and cultural organizations in the community.

McKinnon said joining the CJC is a perfect fit for her, considering her roots.

“Due to my parents’ profession, I was raised in a family where restorative justice was a regular conversational topic at the dinner table. Subsequently, while working as a press reporter, I had numerous opportunities to witness the impact of restorative justice on community healing and wellness.”

McKinnon will be bringing a fresh and revitalized perspective to the Centre and will be focusing on building and restoring relationships with volunteers, stakeholders, partner groups, and referring agencies, during this post-pandemic period.

Farewell to Bruce Curtis

After 27 years of engagement with the Community Justice Centre in various roles, chief administrator Bruce Curtis, and his job title, are retiring. For the last 18 years, Curtis has served the Centre as chief administrator, overseeing volunteer recruitment and training, case file management, grant writing, and pubic education. During this period he inaugurated the Campagnolo Lectures, now in its 12th year, bringing nationally recognized leaders to the Comox Valley to offer their thoughts and reflections on the place of restorative justice and restorative practices within a civil community setting. He expanded the number of agencies, organizations and governments who refer files to the CJC for resolution from the two original referral agencies (the RCMP and the School District) to the present 23 referral sources. Initially, he brought a vision of a much wider use of restorative justice within the Comox Valley and that has largely been realized.

Over the years the work of the CJC under Curtis’ leadership has been recognized by many agencies and government. CJC has received the Adolescent Resources Line Workers Network Award; Valleylinks Best Volunteerism Award; the Nesika Award for Excellence in Diversity by the BC Ministry of Multiculturalism; the Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Recognition Award by Correctional Services Canada; the Liz Elliot Restorative Justice Memorial Award by the BC Ministry of Justice among other forms of recognition.

Most recently, Curtis received the Medal of Good Citizenship, the second-highest award given by B.C. to those exemplifying excellence and achievement of the highest order.