Peacebuilders’ focus is not solely on what we do, but also how we do it. The restorative dialogue process that we call a Peacebuilding Circle is our fundamental methodology and central to all of our programs and initiatives. Peacebuilding Circles are structured group dialogues based upon traditional Aboriginal healing circle models that have been adapted by Peacebuilders to serve Toronto’s multicultural, urban populations.

Circles employ a restorative justice approach that facilitates non-confrontational, egalitarian, and healing dialogues between youths and community members. Circles create a safe space and enable people to have respectful conversations about difficult subjects, share different perspectives, accept responsibility for their actions, and re-build relationships.

Circle discussions are led by trained and impartial volunteer facilitators known as Circle Keepers. A key component to the success of the Circle process is the use of a Talking Piece. The Talking Piece is a symbolic item that is passed from participant to participant, in order, around the Circle. Whoever holds the Talking Piece has the floor and cannot be interrupted while speaking. If someone wishes to speak, they must wait until the Talking piece makes its way around the Circle and is passed to them. The Lead Keeper facilitates the Circle discussion by asking questions and passing the Talking Piece around the Circle so that each participant has the opportunity to answer. As the Talking Piece moves around the Circle, participants address particular issues or conflicts, develop plans, and agree on how to move forward.
 

Key Concepts of Peacemaking Circles

Circles are fundamentally democratic – allowing equal space for each participant to speak and to have and equal voice in the decisions that are made.

Circles assume that not one of us has the whole picture– that it is only by exchanging and sharing of our perspectives that we can learn more about each other and come closer to a complete picture.

Circles enable respectful and reflective dialogue even in very emotional situations.

Circles create a safe space for participants to share their private thoughts in confidence.

Circles are based on an assumption of positive potential – that something good can always come out of whatever situation we are in.

 

Why are Peacebuilding Circles so effective?

They are fundamentally egalitarian—allowing equal space for each participant to speak and to have a voice in the decisions that are made.

They are non-confrontational and create a safe space for participants to share their perspectives and private thoughts in confidence.

They encourage respectful and reflective dialogue even in very difficult or emotional situations.

They focus on accountability, restitution, and support.