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Peaceful conflict resolution – lessons learned from a Northern Irish peace activist

Diana Ginn, Paul Hutchinson and chapter member Betty Wilcox at Paul Hutchinson’s public lecture ‘Living Well with Differences: Reflections from a Northern Irish Peace Activist’. Photo: Council of Canadians PEI chapter.

The PEI chapter hosted Paul Hutchinson last weekend for a public lecture and a workshop on conflict resolution and peace to offer insight into re-imagining the idea of community. Mr. Hutchinson is a mediator, therapist, artist and retreat leader. He uses the tools of conflict transformation and peace-building to help individuals and organizations to address important and challenging issues. He is the former Director of Corrymeela Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Northern Ireland.  He is currently Commissioner on the Northern Ireland Parades Commission.

Mr. Hutchinson has over 20 years experience as a mediator and has worked extensively in Northern Ireland, in North West England, in New York, Jerusalem, and Canada. He teaches annually at the Dalhousie School of Law, and has also taught at the Atlantic School of Theology, both in Halifax.

Chapter member Betty Wilcox said, “People were inspired by Paul’s message as well as his wisdom, giftedness, creativity and open-heartedness. I know many were hoping that in the future to attend longer and more intensive lectures and workshops on the same theme – reconciling differences – and others by Paul Hutchinson.”

These events were meant to help participants gain a better understanding of the process involved in reconciling differences among people with diversified and contrary perspectives. This is particularly relevant at a time when our political landscape is characterized by the rise of fascism, racism, an ever-widening wealth gap, and additional social pressures caused by climate change. Council of Canadians chapters and staff are fighting back against these threats to social justice in many forms, including fighting the Ford government in Ontario, fighting to protect water as a public good in  Canada and Europe, and supporting local fightbacks of all kinds. 

Congrats to the chapter on their successful events and investment in peaceful conflict resolution!