On February 5th, I attended a dinner and panel discussion sponsored by the Ismaili community and its National Conciliation and Arbitration Board (CAB) for Canada. CAB provides community mediation and arbitration services on a voluntary, no-cost basis. Invitees to the event included CAB member-in-training plus outside dispute resolution practitioners, academics and members of the judiciary.
The event discussed dispute resolution in pluralistic societies, specifically Ontario. Shalini Konanur, Executive Director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario explained that clinic clients prefer arbitration, such as the process conducted by CAB. The ability to choose a decision-maker from their own community was a key factor. But being listened to, respected and understood during the process was what counted the most. In my experience, this triad (also called "relational fairness") is what people want and respond to in a dispute resolution process, regardless of ethnicity or other identifiable characteristics.