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Biblical justice begins where you live

A one-year deep dive into what justice looks like in a hurting world is now midway through its second run at The King’s University. The Micah Centre began offering the Justice Fellowship in 2019-20 to small groups of students who spend the year as a cohort taking classes together. It’s a unique program offered every other year.

“What we wanted was an experience where students could have something like a study abroad experience but they could do it at King's and integrate it right into their major,” Micah Centre Director Jonathan Nicolai-deKoning says.

The Justice Fellowship requires students to take two courses in the fall semester, as well as a history course, independent study, and Quest Mexico, a 10-day experiential learning course in central Mexico. The trip doesn’t have a service component, rather it’s about learning from people experiencing injustice and poverty, and from their allies, such as feminist activists, people living in squatter settlements, and those working for labour rights.

Back in Edmonton, students are challenged to think about injustices happening at home such as concerns brought forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, issues of marginalization and poverty, and racial and socioeconomic inequalities.

Michelle Roseboom, an Environmental Studies student from the 2019-20 cohort, says being part of the Fellowship opened her eyes. “The Justice Fellowship challenged me to learn more about injustices that I normally wouldn’t consider.”

And that’s the point: learning how to pursue a better world by using biblical justice principles and considering points of view students might not have come across before.

“One of the themes they think about throughout the year is the relationship between small acts of advocacy and change that I can do on my own,” says Nicolai-deKoning. “Like the way I spend my money and the way I relate to the people that I actually encounter on the street. But also bigger questions like what sort of policy and legislation is shaping our city and province and how it affects me as a privileged person compared to someone living on the street or who has survived residential schools.”

Tackling so many issues within a year can be overwhelming, but current Fellowship student Kiara Abma says that’s where getting to know her classmates has really helped. 

“Having a cohort is really important to me because it helps me be with like-minded people who care about the same things. We work together towards coming to conclusions about questions like how can I act out the ideas I have about justice in my life? Because there’s a lot that you can do and there’s a lot that you can’t do individually.”

Some students have changed career paths after taking the Fellowship or discovered passions they didn’t know existed. Others, like current Fellowship student Joule Soliven, are learning how to take action on things they had been thinking about for years.

“When I was asked why I wanted to participate in the Justice Fellowship, I talked about my experience being an immigrant. Being a person of colour puts me in a position where I’m more likely to see what people’s experiences are. Like the difficulty in transitioning as a new immigrant or a newcomer or a refugee. I understand the difficulty in going to a new country and not having that social and cultural capital backing you.”

Helping students discover how to walk out justice through a year of experiential learning and community building is one of the ways King’s continues to live out its vision to build a more humane, just and sustainable world.

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