By Glenn Drexhage
Restorative justice and indigenous communities will be the research topic for the first appointee to a prestigious aboriginal chair position at Vancouver Island University.
Roy Janisch has been named VIU’s inaugural Fulbright Canada Jarislowsky Visiting Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies.
Janisch is an associate professor of justice studies at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. His nine-month term at VIU begins in September 2016.
“It’s such an honour to be recognized for this chair,” says Janisch, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. “I look forward to collaborating in this role to address and hopefully solve some of the problems that we have in society today.”
The Fulbright Canada Jarislowsky visiting Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies is supported by $250,000 US in funding provided by the Fulbright Canada Foundation and the Jarislowsky Foundation. The position, funded for five years, will engage VIU’s aboriginal students in research and strengthen relationships between the university, First Nations, Métis, Inuit and the broader community. A new chair will be selected annually.
Restorative justice emphasizes the rehabilitation of offenders through victim and community reconciliation. As a former criminal investigator and police officer – including on his home reservation – Janisch brings a wealth of experience to his position at VIU.
“Many of the indigenous cultures in North America are a bit hesitant to be as welcoming of outsiders because of the history that they’ve experienced,” he said. “We need to find ways to resolve issues, work through them and move forward.”
Janisch, who first visited VIU in 2014 while on a sabbatical, plans to examine restorative justice practices and principles in the U.S. and Canada – a collaborative effort that will involve the university’s departments of criminology and First Nations studies, as well as the Office of Aboriginal Education and the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation. As part of his research, he aims to interview indigenous subjects in both countries, including some based on Vancouver Island. Janisch also plans to make his findings available to students for further study and research.
The Jarislowsky Foundation, based in Montreal, was founded by Canadian businessman and philanthropist Stephen Jarislowsky in 1991. Since then, it has supported the establishment of 30 chairs in Canada in a number of fields, including education, medicine and art.
Glenn Drexhage is a writer with VIU’s communications department.