She met her fa­ther’s killer

Now, a Van­cou­ver woman’s story is help­ing to make things right for vic­tims of crim­i­nal of­fences — on their terms

StarMetro Vancouver - - NEWS - ALEX MCKEEN

And her mem­oir is up for a Gov­er­nor Gen­eral award thes­

Carys Cragg was 11 years old when her fa­ther, a doc­tor and her favourite per­son, was taken from her. She was old and bright enough to un­der­stand that the young man who broke into her house and stabbed Ge­of­frey Cragg to death had com­mit­ted mur­der.

Her fa­ther’s killing has touched ev­ery as­pect of Cragg’s life since that morn­ing 26 years ago. But it wasn’t un­til much

more re­cently she de­cided to con­front the “ghost” who com­mit­ted the crime, and to share her story about restora­tive jus­tice in hopes of shed­ding light on how com­plex vic­tims’ needs — and the process of meet­ing them — can be.

“What some­one needs im­me­di­ately af­ter a crime may be dif­fer­ent from what they may need in five years, 20 years down the line,” Cragg said in an in­ter­view Wed­nes­day. “I’m strongly in sup­port of vic­tims get­ting what­ever they need.”

Cragg’s 2017 mem­oir about meet­ing her fa­ther’s mur­derer,

Dead Reck­on­ing, is a rare pub­lic foray into the restora­tive jus­tice process, which al­most al­ways takes place be­hind closed doors.

The book is a fi­nal­ist for the

Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s lit­er­ary award, and it’s help­ing shape the con­ver­sa­tion in Canada about what op­tions vic­tims should have af­ter a crime takes place.

Restora­tive jus­tice fo­cuses on bring­ing con­sent­ing vic­tims and of­fend­ers to the same ta­ble in an at­tempt to re­pair harms.

Fa­cil­i­tated through not-for­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions that have part­ner­ships with Canada’s po­lice and cor­rec­tional ser­vices, some­times it’s used right af­ter a crime has been com­mit­ted, as an al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional crim­i­nal jus­tice pro­ceed­ings. It can also ex­ist, in­de­pen­dently, along­side them.

Thou­sands of crim­i­nal cases in­clude some kind of restora­tive jus­tice in­ter­ven­tion ev­ery year in Canada, in­clud­ing about 1,700 each year in B.C.. But, un­like crim­i­nal court, these pro­ce­dures are closed to the pub­lic.

One con­se­quence of that, in Cragg’s view, is that, when sto­ries about restora­tive jus­tice do be­come pub­lic, they can “over­sim­plify” or ro­man­ti­cize the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the vic­tim and the of­fender.

Cragg’s story of meet­ing her fa­ther’s mur­derer, Shel­don Klatt, is nei­ther sim­ple nor ro­man­tic.

With the as­sis­tance of Com­mu­nity Jus­tice Ini­tia­tives, she com­mu­ni­cated with Klatt for two years through let­ters, fi­nally meet­ing him in per­son, at Drumheller In­sti­tu­tion in Al­berta. In her mem­oir she de­scribes a process of learn­ing and heal­ing, while also de­tail­ing dis­ap­point­ments large and small.

“I found peace, I found a type of for­give­ness, I feel more at ease in my world and more abil­ity to en­joy my life,” she said of the process. “And I still don’t want to be in con­tact with my of­fender. I still feel frus­trated with him.”


Carys Cragg


Carys Cragg with her fa­ther Ge­of­frey on the Sal­ish Sea, au­tumn 1983.


Carys Cragg’s mem­oir Dead Reck­on­ing is a rare pub­lic foray into the restora­tive jus­tice process, which al­most al­ways takes place be­hind closed doors.

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