Community Approach & Projects
For CICR, “community” is where we live, where we work, or where we share activities. A community is like a well that gathers people, brings them into regular interaction to fulfill certain psychological, emotional, relational and material needs. We can also imagine a global village, since communities are linked and interact with larger ones. They can also divide into smaller communities.
Community-based conflict resolution (CBRC) moves communities towards healthy responses to conflict. Conflict is therefore seen as normal and as an opportunity for growth and creativity. Communities and their members become competent in resolving their own differences without resorting to violence. The challenge for third party neutrals (TPNs) working in CBCR is to help communities in conflict restore trust and create healthy relationships without necessarily resolving all issues. It is a peace making process.
Through CBCR communities and their members develop the insight, motivation and skills necessary to address the deep roots of conflict in creative and constructive ways using process that become a part of community life, and are useful in a broad range of situations.
For example, CICR offers unique CBCR-based training that anchors community members in the culture of CBCR. Through the use of circles, dialogue, roles plays, interactive games and peer feedback, participants gain true-to-life experience in CBCR processes.
CBCR is characterized by processes that:
- Foster dignity and respect: trust and commitment is built when people are given a “voice” and a “choice” in conflicts that affect their well-being. Individuals and groups become competent in resolving their own conflict and develop shared principles for guiding CBCR.
- Are positively centered: Instead of limiting intervention to “problem-solving” and “satisfying interests”, CBCR creates opportunities for people to “heal their relations” through collaborative activities that transform interactions and reframe issues constructively. Training, for example, is a positively-centered activity.
- Are inclusive and barrier free: Resources are allocated so that information is shared equally, and concerned community members are able to participate fully in the decisions that affect their lives
- Are vision-based: the goal of CBCR is to develop common purpose through shared activities. Community members are empowered to structure processes that benefit communities and their members in the long-term as well as the short-term.
- Are timely and sustainable: CBCR responds quickly to the needs of the individuals and groups involved.
- Recognize the complexity of conflict: CBCR unmasks the multiple layers of conflict, and addresses the roots of conflict; whether between individuals or groups, and from initial tensions to all-out-war, communities develop strategies to change the culture of conflict to one of peace so that communities can heal and grow.
Developing a healthy community is like an orchestra making music. The harmony comes from working together towards a common goal.
Community Projects and Programs
CICR works with community groups and organizations across Canada to assist them to become their own ‘conflict resolvers’. This may take the form of institutional capacity building to deal with ongoing internal conflicts, or it may be to set up a framework for resolving disputes within or between communities.
CICR offers a number of services including:
Facilitating processes to help communities analyze and find structural solutions to their conflicts;
Providing community level training in conflict resolution;
Training selected community members to be mediators and facilitators;
Facilitating community dialogues to develop local solutions to local conflictual issues.
For a community to be fully conflict resolving, CICR believes that every member should have a basic understanding of the general principles and possibilities of resolving conflicts peacefully before they escalate. Some members should have a strong skill level in being able to prevent conflicts or to resolve them when they arise. A few members of the community must have a high skill level or at least have access to professionals outside the community for more complicated conflicts. In all cases, the person leading the resolution process must not be a party to the dispute – referred to as a “third party neutral”. Finally the community should have a conflict resolution coordinator, someone who is responsible for ensuring new members receive basic training, organizing refresher training for members and bringing in outside resources as necessary.
CICR has supported a wide variety of communities, including Police (Ottawa-Carleton Police Service Cops and Kids Program), hospitals (Queensway-Carleton and Grace Hospital integration), remote aboriginal communities (Sioux Lookout), government departments and agencies, and neighborhood communities.
Furthermore, in 2009, CICR took over the Community Mediation Ottawa (CMO) from the YMCA-YWCA. Its goal is to offer free intervention services (mediation or facilitation) in Ottawa to families and organizations that do not have the financial needs to help resolve their conflicts and that are at an impasse in their communication. CMO has been growing and it continues to reach out further into the Ottawa community offering its volunteer community-level conflict mediation services and training. Heretofore an entirely volunteer-run operation, CICR decided in November 2015 to fund a part-time employee for the first time in CMO’s approximately 17 years of existence, in order to ensure that CMO can respond effectively to community needs.