After listening to the full story, I slipped out of the building and drove slowly back to my office - pondering.
I had one question. Does someone change from once being the “Most Wanted Criminal in Canada,” a dangerous, gun-carrying, violent bank robber – into a good, good father - as he was claiming?
If he hadn’t changed and if I didn’t say anything – I would be enabling a violent man to continue to influence young vulnerable teens. Not only that, what if the Restorative Leaders were interested in using our stories together? What if we were going to be their next dog and pony show - sharing the same platform as we had done today.. and not even knowing about it before hand.
By the time I got to my office, I was convinced I needed to confront the leaders of the Restorative Justice movement with my concerns. But before I did that I would need to know more. I was a journalist by trade....I would need to know the whole story.
I found Durocher’s contact information.
I picked up the telephone.
Would he meet me for breakfast?
I would pay.
He accepted my invitation - we set up a time the following week.
By the time the day rolled around, I was one hot mess of nerves when I walked into the restaurant that morning to meet him.
He was already sitting in the back, dark corner of the restaurant when I arrived – in exactly the place I would have chosen.
We were probably the two most unlikely people ever to meet and have a breakfast conversation. He was French, a Catholic born in Montreal, Quebec. I was British, a Mennonite born in Chilliwack, British Columbia. He was a bank robber, a well-known criminal, violent and ruthless. I was a parent of a murdered child, law-abiding, a bit of a pacifist, and conscientious. I had been sheltered – he was street smart. He had grown up breaking the law to survive. I was pious to the extreme. I hadn’t even smoked a cigarette behind a barn – much less stolen anything. He had robbed a bank – driven by greed. I was from a modest, frugal family that felt money was the “root of all evil.”
I slid into the booth opposite him.
We just looked at each other. His eyes were dark.
How does one open this kind of conversation? It didn’t seem appropriate to talk about the weather.
I plunged in. I began asking him questions about his arrest, his crimes, his time in prison ,,,,, I'll admit that it was more of an interrogation. He endured it well.
Mainly I asked about his decision to change. It was for his children, his wife....., he said.
He answered every question I asked...at least I thought he did....
I went back to the office to ponder some more.
The search for justice and security, the struggle for equality of opportunity, the quest for tolerance and harmony, the pursuit of human dignity - these are moral imperatives which we must work towards and think about on a daily basis. - Aga Khan IV