Metro Vancouver, B.C. – Today, Dr. Alana Abramson is an award-winning criminology instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).
But 24 years ago, she was a homeless 15-year-old experimenting with drugs. Eventually, Abramson got the counselling she needed in order to leave the streets for good, finished high school and went on to study criminology at Simon Fraser University.
Her life changed forever the day her professor, the late Dr. Liz Elliott, brought in a man who had committed murder as a guest lecturer. Once released from prison, the man dedicated his life to helping other offenders reintegrate safely into society.
From that moment, Abramson committed her life to the advancement of restorative justice.
“Who I am today and everything I do is shaped and inspired by so many people, the first being Liz Elliott,” said Abramson, who has been recognized with the Restorative Justice Liz Elliott Memorial Award.
The award recognizes a community-based restorative justice group or individual that has demonstrated a commitment to innovative partnerships that have advanced the work of restorative justice and brought caring and respectful service to victims, offenders and their communities. It was established in honour and memory of the late Elliott, founding co-director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at SFU and a highly respected practitioner and advocate for restorative justice.
“Liz was my first mentor and saw something in me that I didn't,” Abramson continues. “I am so grateful to Liz and others in the restorative justice community who have helped me become a passionate receipt of and advocate for healing and transformation. It means so much to be recognized for the work I care so deeply about."
Abramson has almost 20 years’ experience in the field of restorative justice. She has trained hundreds of restorative justice facilitators in B.C. and currently supports and consults for new and existing programs. She has extensive experience from working directly with victims and offenders in both community and prison settings to help develop the first set of practice standards in B.C. She has applied her knowledge and skills to help support various initiatives, including those supporting elders and at-risk adults, people with disabilities, Indigenous communities, youth, former prisoners, and survivors.
Dr. Diane Purvey, dean in the Faculty of Arts, says Abramson’s dedication to her field shows in the classroom.
“Alana is passionate about restorative justice, and she brings that passion into the classroom, where she inspires her students every day to join her in contributing to society through caring and respectful service to victims, offenders and their larger communities.”
Abramson is the current coordinator for the Alternatives to Violence Project and a volunteer with Kamloops Restorative Justice and the Interior Restorative Justice Network.