Source: (2000) Dispute Resolution in Law Studies Award Papers. Canadian Forum on Civil Justice. 20 February 2003.

Roman Catholic, Anglican, and United Churches of Canada directed residential schools for aboriginal children from the 1840s to 1984. Funded by the federal government, the purpose of the schools was to assimilate aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian society. Conditions at the schools were generally poor and damaging to the children. The adverse conditions often included physical and sexual abuse. In recent years, thousands of victims have been filing civil actions against the churches and the federal government to enforce accountability and seek healing and redress. Carla McGrath expresses great sympathy with the perspectives and needs of the victims, but wonders whether civil litigation can achieve an appropriate and meaningful resolution of the issues. She contends that designing an alternative dispute resolution system to handle the civil litigation would be a more appropriate and meaningful option for victims and accused. Toward this end, she discusses the legal aspects of the problem, the parties’ interests and goals, alternative dispute resolution, and design issues and recommendations.


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