Restorative Justice Housing Ontario (RJHO) began as the result of a chance meeting at a restorative justice roundtable. During a session, several of us started talking about how people returning from prison require three critical things to succeed: a safe place to live, something useful to do and a supportive community.
RJHO is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization and is a registered charity under Revenue Canada (registration number 747819084 RR 0001). As such, donations to the United Way are eligible to be directed to RJHO.
Our board includes people with a strong background in working with former prisoners after their release from prison as well as individuals with expertise in setting up and operating various forms of supportive housing.
Paul Dowling has spent his working life developing solutions to homelessness for people marginalized by poverty and disability. He is currently Animator for Social Justice at Beach United Church. He has also worked for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Ontario Ministry of Housing and Homes First Society.
Jim Harbell is a graduate of Pastoral Studies at U of T. He is also a lawyer and former partner at Stikeman Elliott, where he was personally involved in specialized housing projects for more than three decades. He is active in Friends of Dismas and the Circles of Support and Accountability.
Eileen Henderson is a past Restorative Justice Coordinator, Mennonite Central Committee Ontario and Coordinator of Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA), a reintegration program that holds inmates with histories of sexual offending accountable for the harm they’ve caused and supports their reintegration at the end of their sentences.
Wendy Leaver is a part-time professor at Durham College, School of Justice and Emergency Services in the Victimology Program. She is a retired Detective from the Toronto Police Service, Sex Crimes Unit and has volunteered with COSA for over 20 years.
Rev. Harry Nigh
Harry Nigh is the co-developer of Friends of Dismas Fellowship, former community chaplain for Correctional Service of Canada and co-founder of Circles of Support and Accountability.
Allan Petrie, CPA, CA is the former Vice Chairman of Kairos Prison Ministries Canada, retired General Manager at CIBC, former board member of Parkdale United Church Foundation, owner operator of a 130-unit apartment building and former Board Chair of Alderwood United Church.
Michael Van Dusen
Michael Van Dusen is an Anglican deacon, member of the Anglican Diocesan Social Justice and Advocacy Committee and past Chair of Prison Fellowship of Canada. He is active in Out of the Cold, COSA, and on poverty issues.
David Walsh, MBA is a commercial real estate developer with a strong interest in social justice, non-profit housing and community economic development projects. He has also received the Jane Jacobs Award for his community work.
Joseph Lauren, LLB is our Program Director and also an ex-prisoner whose efforts at redirecting and reforming his life have included public speaking to student groups across Canada and the creation of a documentary focused on the prevention of crime through an examination of its, often unintended, victims.
RJHO’s Advisory Board provides support and advice to our directors by drawing on their specific areas of expertise.
Maureen Brosnahan is an award- winning Canadian journalist. She was a senior national correspondent with CBC National News for 25 years. She also spent many years reporting for magazines and newspapers. She’s won many national and international awards for her work covering health and social policy issues.
David Byrne is a Professor of Community and Justice Services at Centennial College in Scarborough and a Doctoral Candidate in Theology (ethics) at the University of St. Michael’s College, researching the chemical castration of sex offenders. Previously, he served as Executive Director for Peterborough Reintegration Services.
Eileen Dalusong is a prison chaplain at the Toronto South detention centre and recently received her Master’s in Divinity from Emmanuel College at U of T. Her vocation as a chaplain builds on her activism in the Philippines during the People’s Revolution and her work with Restorative Justice with the Ontario Public Service.
Francis Hebert has been an addictions counsellor since 1992 and active in the 12-step movement for many years. He has worked at St. Joseph’s Withdrawal Managements Services and Detox and at the Donwood Institute as an addiction counsellor and support worker. Francis was president of Our Homes Toronto Association for 12 years.
Juliane Martin serves as a chaplain with the Salvation Army at Bunton Lodge/W.P. Archibald Centre in downtown Toronto. She is passionate about the forgiveness and transformation possible through restorative justice and grateful for the opportunity to work with people reintegrating back to the community.
Paula Rochman has worked as a criminal defence lawyer for almost 30 years. Through hundreds of her clients she has learned about the need for basic support during reintegration. Without appropriate housing, any plans to seek employment, attend counselling, or re-gain family bonds, are limited.
Adrian (Ed) Vandenberg recently retired from 21 years with Mennonite Central Committee’s COSA program. This work grew out of his early volunteer involvement with ex-prisoners, including the Open Homes group. He has also worked in the settlement of refugees and new immigrants as the former director of the Lighthouse Centre.
Virginia (Ginnie) Wilson was originally a biochemist, but has also had personal and professional experience with mental illness for over 40 years. She’s worked for the Canadian Mental Health Association as both a Personal Experience Speaker and workshop facilitator. She later returned to laboratory work at CAMH, investigating side-effects in modern anti-psychotics.
Michael Walsh was ordained to the Roman Catholic diaconate and has been serving in the Archdiocese of Toronto since 2004. He is the co-founder of Friends of Dismas and the Dismas Fellowship Network. He serves as Executive Director of The National Council of Catholic Broadcasting and was previously a professor at Seneca College and the Executive Director of Henri Nouwen Society.