Sometimes it’s hard to say you’re sorry.
Everyone’s been there at some point, and the South Etobicoke Humber Conflict Clinic is here to help.
The clinic is a partnership with St. Stephen’s House, an alternative conflict resolution centre located in Kensington Market, and Humber College’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) post-graduate program.
“We noticed how many people from Etobicoke were coming to the downtown location, and we just thought, if there was ever an opportunity to start something, this would be the time,” said Mary Lee, the ADR program advisor.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to apply the theory and skills they learned in class to try and resolve real community disputes,” said Lee.
The clinic helps with everything from personal conflicts to issues between tenants and landlords. Both students and community members can attend the free clinic and receive conflict coaching or mediation.
The partnership, which began in 2013, has been working hard to bring awareness to the clinic.
“Any time you’re starting a new initiative, getting it off the ground is a hard task,” said Lee.
ADR students Amanda Chambers, 25, and Midori Schroeder, 26, said that much of their time at the clinic is spent doing community outreach.
“It’s been a little bit challenging. Because we’re a one-year program, there’s a lot of turnover, so there’s a lot of time spent just training with St. Stephens and then trying to get the word out,” said Chambers.
Chambers said the lack of continuity makes it difficult to bring people into the clinic.
But the small numbers of clients at the clinic doesn’t stop students from getting that hands on experience.
“We do a lot of work outside this campus as well. We go to court-houses and see which cases need mediation. We try and branch out as much as possible,” said Schroeder.
And through the challenges, students are helping whom they can.
“It’s a really constructive way to deal with conflict, turning something negative into a positive,” said Schroeder.
The ADR program is planning to re-launch the clinic in September with hopes to bring more attention to the service.
“It takes a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” said Lee. “But it’s such an amazing opportunity to help students learn and make the community better.”