In Search of Reconciliation Through Dispute Resolution
Osgoode Hall Law School
Co-Instructors: Andrea Menard, LLB LLM & Marc Bhalla, LLM
Beginning with an appreciation of the roots and aims of restorative justice, traditional Indigenous approaches to dispute resolution and related methodologies, we will reflect upon the challenges of current public justice system and prevailing private dispute resolution processes.
Group discussions will deeply examine the shortcomings of past reconciliation approaches as guest lecturers share their first-hand actual experiences and thoughts on what is needed to achieve contemporary goals of inclusion, equality and fairness through dispute resolution processes and proactive conflict management.
Through guest visits and role play exercises, students will have the opportunity to practice culturally sensitive approaches to overcoming systemic biases and consider the difference between true and performative allyship.
We will explore the concept of being trauma informed as a mediator, arbitrator, coach or decision maker and related mental health issues. The impact of such on the dispute resolution journey and experiential justice will also be reflected upon and discussed.
Cultural humility, unconscious bias and inclusivity techniques that foster the maintenance of long-term, ongoing relationships will be considered, along with the preservation of collaborative diversity amidst challenges. Students will be encouraged to reflect upon, discuss and consider, in a dispute resolution context, what resonates for them with respect to reconciliation in their existing or aspiring practice in public and private justice-seeking settings.
Consideration will be given to: How to use Indigenous laws within formal and informal dispute resolution processes; How to advocate for Indigenous ways and work with those unfamiliar with or intimidated by them; How to establish and communicate in a safe environment; Identifying systemic bias and considering how Indigenous dispute resolution techniques can overcome hurdles and be fair and inclusive; The meaning of reconciliation and why it is important; What it means to be an ethical dispute resolution practitioner; How to overcome contemporary challenges preventing harmony, peace and inclusion; Identifying and overcoming performative allyship and toxic positivity; Taking care of yourself. Considerations of mental health in the course of dispute resolution; Responsibility today for Canada’s history with its Indigenous Peoples. What we can be done in 2022 and beyond; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada – walking in truth; Exploratory dispute resolution processes. How to create a process that embraces reconciliation; Establishing cultural competency through cultural humility, making mistakes, appreciating that no one has all of the answers and letting Indigenous Peoples lead; Building understanding through role play*; Identifying and overcoming subconscious biases; and Skills to learn and process design in support of anti-racism.
*The reconciliation role plays used in this course were developed by Marc Bhalla and Andrea Menard and are culturally appropriate. They have been used in Andrea Menard’s Reconciliation and Lawyers (LAW 693) course at the University of Calgary and have been well-received by participants. These role plays offer individual choice to offer comfort for each participant as they experience the challenges and potential solutions to Indigenous issues that impact everyone.