About Jarem Sawatsky

Hi, I’m Jarem Sawatsky.

In a world afraid of dying, not achieving and not succeeding, I reflect on the gift of losing my mind (my friends have always thought I had holes in my head but now my doctors have also confirmed their accusations). So I am exploring how peacebuilding and mindfulness insights might help those of us facing chronic disease and dementia.

My Blog:

I was a university professor, author, and researcher in peace and conflict studies until I was diagnosed with a fatal disease called Huntington's Disease (HD). Now I am stumbling (literally) my way into learning about loving, letting go and living in the now.  You can learn more about that journey on my blog Dancing with Elephants: A Beginners Guide to Losing Your Mind.

While my blog posts use my experience with Huntington's Disease as a springboard, they raise issues which may be of interest to anyone for whom dementia or disability has touched their life. In some ways this is a blog about being human - a fragile way of being for all us.  To that end, I write stories and reflections about learning to laugh and let go. I do not hold out myself as a model of success. Models of success are part of the problem, not the solution.

My goal is to create insightful, disturbing and perhaps inspiring content that you can put to work in your learning to dance with the elephants in your life.I typically post twice a month. To make sure you don’t miss my newest posts, you can subscribe via e-mail. It’s quick, easy, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

I recently had the privilege of partnering with 17 fantastic peacebuilders from around the world.  The project was called "How Peacebuilders are Transforming Their Worlds." We asked them to share stories of inspiring peace work, tools and strategies of peacebuilding in a variety of settings and resources that have helped shape and inspire the author's peace practices. The book was endorsed by 25 peace leaders, including two Nobel Peace Prize winners.   Click here to learn more.



I live in Winnipeg, with a great family, and a great dog named Kobi. I like (spilling) red wine and spending time at the lake.

Exploring Healing Justice

In the mid 2000s, I was fortunate to spend some time in England, Canada, France and Scotland exploring communities that had some practice of healing justice.    I wrote about what I learned from these brave communities - Hollow Water, Iona, Plum Village.  It is called The Ethic of Traditional Communities and the Spirit of Healing Justice.


Co-Founding the Canadian School of Peacebuilding

I spent most of my professional career as a professor, researcher and author based at Canadian Mennonite University. During my time there I was the founding Co-Director of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding. I had government-funded research grants that allowed me to explore healing justice in communities in Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Israel, Scotland, England, Canada, France.

What if justice was more about embracing than about excluding?

At heart I am a peacebuilder.  I think justice is very important but I don't think justice is as ugly as injustice.  If injustice is about excluding, taking away, breaking and being shamed, then should justice be more about  embracing, giving back, connecting and becoming radiant?  I wrote a guide for peace and justice workers so that they could root their imagination in this kind of a justpeace approach to life.  I wrote a book on exploring this topic:   Justpeace Ethics: A Guide for Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding.

You can see a listing of all my books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound, or CommonWord.


The Canadian School of Peacebuilding, under the kind leadership of my friend Jarem Sawatsky, is a place where the peacebuilding of all traditions is nurtured, Indigenous traditions are respected, and Elders and youth of all traditions can learn from each other.

Ovide Mercredi, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

I have so enjoyed Jarem's spirit, energy and understanding of the importance of spirit in conflict transformation work.

Michelle LeBaron, author, Bridging Cultural Conflicts

Jarem... a wonderful grace-filled soul of a person, of a quality that made everything and everyone around you better.

John Paul Lederach, author, Building Peace

 Jarem's contribution, the insightfulness and wisdom of his work on restorative justice and peacebuilding, has been profound indeed.

John Braithwaite, Author, Crime, Shame and Reintegration

Jarem is passionate for, not only the field of peace building, but peaceful existence as a way of life.

Nicole Enns Fehr, peacebuilder

He is a wonderful friend whom we love so much. In Sri Lanka and in Canada he displayed to us his great global vision.

A.T. Ariyaratne, founder Sarvodaya Movement

How to Contact Jarem

You can easily follow me on  twitter here, or like my page on Facebook here. You can email me at sawatsky (at) outlook.com.  I am not always able to respond to emails.

However, another way to say in contact is to subscribe to my blog and author updates. If you do, you’ll receive my free ebook Justpeace Ethics: A Guide for Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding.

Just click the button below to subscribe:


  1. Jarem, thank you for putting in words your experiences and thoughts during this wonderful journey. I am a Certified Dementia Practitioner/Artist and love working with these wonderful people. Your attitude is inspiring and as well as comforting I’m sure for many. I work every day with Alzheimer’s , Parkinsons and Lewy Body clients and their families and wish some could see your approach and attitude would be beneficial to their healing.
    Just a side note, my wife is getting her Masters in Conflict Resolution and her name is Kobi!

    • I am starting to realize that many people with diseases don’t see many options for how to live their life. Deny, fight, mourn become bitter seem to be common options. Perhaps people haven’t been given permission to try on other options. My disease is hereditary so I have been on the other side of it – the frustrated caregiver. I come from generations of demented! Perhaps that helps to create space to try on different options.

  2. Just came across your blog this morning. We have a friend at the beginnings of dementia so this is very timely for us. And . . . . we are all aging and losing so many things so, helpful to us as well!

  3. I have one brother who is suffering early onset dementia, and another dying of cancer in hospital. As my family travels from Alberta to Saskatchewan to say their final goodbyes to Gary, I am so aware of the “elephant in the room”. The avoidance of the words around “dying”! I know that many of the 11 siblings are coping with the first stages of grief…acceptance is that faraway destination at this time. Thank you for the solace and the humour. You are a blessing!

  4. Hi Jarem,
    Just a quick note to say that I love this new web design and format! And your latest poem is truly thought-provoking and soul-searching…. The photos are great — especially the ones of you and your family. My how the girls have grown up into beautiful young women, almost as lovely as their Mom! A big Hello and hugs to you all! Love you guys. Frank and Colleen

  5. Hello Jarem!

    I received word of this new web project via a School of Peacebuilding email. I had you as a professor for Intro to PACTS during my first year at CMU 2004/05. I loved that class so much that I made PACTS my major. Unfortunately (for me), you were gone in England working on your PhD for the rest of my degree at CMU. I’ve gone on to do RJ work in Colorado with Mennonite Voluntary Service and I am now living in Prince Albert doing RJ work with offenders at the Sask Penn for a small non profit, Parkland Restorative Justice. I wanted to thank-you for teaching me about RJ and I am looking forward to learning more about dancing with the elephants in our lives!


    Heather Driedger

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