Ottawa's View of ADR Dampens Enthusiasm: Visioning Now `All Seems to Have Gone by the Boards'

Article excerpt

The Anglican Church continues to work at getting two alternative dispute resolution projects off the ground. But Ellie Johnson, director of Partnerships, admits that she has lost much of her enthusiasm for ADR as a way of resolving residential schools grievances.

Or at least she has lost faith in the federal government's implementation of ADR.

Ms.. Johnson was involved in initial talks about ADR between churches, Natives and the government and continues to play a key role for the church.

"I was very enthusiastic in the beginning," she said.

Initially, in addition to individual financial settlements, participants talked of memorializing the survivors of residential schools, retelling the history of the country to include what really happened to the nation's original inhabitants and teaching that history to immigrants.

"We did a lot of visioning," Ms. Johnson said. "It all seems to have gone by the boards."

She continued, "I don't think this whole ADR approach is going to live up to its original vision. When we first gathered we had the vision of bringing closure and resolution in broad terms, that would be helpful both to individuals and communities."

The government has been driving the process, however, and it has become narrowly focused. Lawyers' involvement has meant the process has become quite legalistic, Ms. Johnson said.

ADR pilot projects as now conceived, are to involve no more than 50 people. …