What is Community Mediation?
Community Mediation is a confidential, impartial, accessible service available to all members of Ottawa’s diverse community at no cost. Volunteer mediators facilitate a conversation between two or more people who are having a disagreement, in order to help them identify a satisfactory solution. It can help participants strengthen their ability to manage future conflicts. As participants in the mediation process develop their own solutions, they can be more satisfying and longer lasting than solutions decided or imposed by an outsider. Volunteer Mediators are drawn from the community and abide by standards set out by the Ontario Community Mediation Coalition.
We can help resolve:
- Disagreements between neighbours, family members, friends and roommates
- We will consider certain family issues, such as decisions around housing for aging parents, or couples that have already separated and need to make non-legal decisions, such as the choice of school their child is to attend.
CMO does not handle family issues such as divorce, separation, custody or estates. CMO also does not handle commercial disputes, if significant sums of money are involved.
Why use community mediation?
Seeking outside support to help with a difficult situation is never an easy step. Community Mediation Ottawa recognizes this, and offers the community a safe, confidential, voluntary and no-cost process to help people work through disputes.
What happens when I contact Community Mediation Ottawa?
We will speak with you about the circumstances that prompted you to call and to discuss our services.
Further details are available below.
Anyone can request our services. This can include:
- Individual self-referral
- Municipal services
- Cooperative, public and other housing groups
- Community organizations.
After you call or email and leave a message for us, a member of our intake team will contact you. During the initial conversation, we will cover a few topics:
- What is the conflict about? We will first seek to understand the situation at-hand and your perspective on things. This will help us to determine whether mediation is an appropriate approach.
- Whether or how we can help. We will explain how mediation works, i.e., that mediators don’t take anyone’s side and support those in conflict through guiding a conversation that will, hopefully, lead to a resolution that will meet both your needs and those of the person with whom you are in conflict. We will remind you that the service is voluntary, confidential and free.
- What happens next? If you decide to proceed, we will then discuss how to best approach the other person or people that should be at the table during mediation.
Agency referrals: if you were referred to CMO by a community partner or you represent an organization that has referred clients to us, note that confidentiality provisions strictly limit what information CMO will share. In all circumstances, we will only communicate to them whether a given situation did, or did not, go to mediation and whether or not the mediation occurred.
What happens during mediation?
We generally follow these steps:
- Once all necessary people have agreed to undertake the mediation process, CMO assigns two mediators to help you. Our mediators are experienced, trained volunteers. The mediators will not be acting as advocates for any individual or as judges. It will ultimately be up to the people who are in conflict to determine whether and how they wish to resolve the dispute.
- The mediators will meet with each person individually (pre-mediation) in order to get a clear understanding of the conflict, the interests and concerns. They will also help prepare you for the mediation itself.
- Once the mediators have determined that everyone is ready for mediation, they will schedule a session at a convenient time and location for everyone. The sessions typically last about three hours.
- During the mediation, everyone will have a chance to tell their story and to be listened to by other participants. Open conversation is actively encouraged. The mediators will guide participants to consider their own and the other participants’ needs, interests, feelings and values.
- The participants will then be guided to brainstorm possible solutions and to agree on the best options.
- Agreement is only reached if all participants feel it satisfies their interests. Participants may decide to prepare a short, written agreement.
- Following the mediation, we will follow up with each of the participants. We may also ask participants to fill out an anonymous evaluation form so we can get feedback from the process.
Community Mediation Ottawa does not charge for its services, and our volunteer mediators do not receive payment for their individual services. However, we do accept donations when possible. As part of the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution, a registered charity, we do welcome donations. Donations can be made online at Canada Helps.