Source: (2004) In Catherine Bell and David Kahane, eds, Intercultural Dispute Resolution in Aboriginal Contexts. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Pp. 329-339.

In Canadian society, it is difficult to imagine disputes that are simultaneously more complex, pressing, profound, and troublesome that the disputes presently existing between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal governments. The enormous chasm between the above treaty offers echoes these concerns. This is not to say that controversies over matters such as free trade, the environment, Charter rights, racism, and the like are not important and challenging. Even neighbour disputes can reach tragic proportions. But none of these disputes fully compares to the problems of a country attempting to come to grips with hundreds of years of colonial history and reconciling itself with the First Nations who suffered, and continue to suffer, enormous injustices. The ways in which these long-standing disputes are resolved sure not only to shape the course of many people’s lives but also to define the future identity of a nation and its citizens. Accordingly, the examinations by Bell, Lowe and Davidson, and Benkes in the preceding three chapters of various initiatives in Canada that address these significant disputes merit close attention. In this brief commentary, I would first like to review Bell, Lowe and Davidson, and Bankes’s work on intercultural dispute resolution initiatives across Canada to determine if any common threads bind their thoughts together. I would then like to offer some of my own observations on their work that might assist our collective understanding of how best to proceed. (excerpt)