Reiny Ortega Cubas is based in Canada and is a family mediator authorized by the province of Saskatchewan. She studied law at the National Autonomous University of  Mexico – Faculty of Law (UNAM) and has a master’s in mediation from The University of Barcelona, Spain. Besides being a mediator, Reiny works as a criminal and family lawyer in Mexico, and always felt there could be a better way of handling disputes. Even though Reiny views law as important, she was not very keen on having to tell people what to do and how to do it. For this reason, Reiny prefers mediation over law stating that In mediation, I love the fact that people do it because they feel it’s the best for them and particularly loves ‘the humanity of it’.” According to her, mediation empowers people and makes them responsible. It also helps victims get justice and heal without having blame placed on them.

Creating Visibility is the Key

Reiny was appointed Director of Criminal Mediation of the tribunal in Mexico where she started learning more about mediation and “fell in love with restorative justice”. Reiny is also a tenured professor for Criminal law and teaches Alternative Dispute Resolution at UNAM. Reiny has also taught mediation at the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana and at different Mexican cities. Likewise, she has also trained police officers, lawyers, and other mediators, and has worked for the judiciary for over 14 years.

Reiny is interested in conflict prevention and to her, mediation creates the perfect environment for this as it helps create visibility even during disputes. Recognizing that others are just as worthy of respect and empathy helps prevent conflicts; even in the event that they do occur, mediation helps us navigate through them in a more civil and cooperative manner. To her, conflict prevention is also getting in touch with our feelings. It is a means for us to be connected to ourselves, cultivate self-awareness while recognizing the humanity of the person in front of us. Reiny believes that a lot of people have a hard time digging deeper and getting in touch with their feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones, but “mediation helps you to recognize what you need”.

Teaching Them Young

Instilling healthy conflict resolution practices into people from a young age is also a means of prevention, and Reiny strongly believes that teaching children empathy goes a long way towards ensuring that they grow up to be considerate adults, capable of making others seen, heard, and respected. Reiny has also made a manual of peace with and for elementary schools in Mexico which took her two years of trial and error to complete. This approach is very promising in preventing conflicts and ensuring sustainable peace. The manual was first tested on kids from privileged backgrounds in a school in Mexico, and they were put into less privileged situations to teach them lessons about empathy and caring for others, mainly those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Reiny recalled a little girl after the exercise saying the following to her; “you know what, I’m never going to discriminate again.” This experience was extremely heartwarming for her, and she was glad to have already made an impact on someone.

Breaking Barriers

Cultural differences can be a beautiful thing; however, sometimes, a minority of individuals use them to discriminate against others, further perpetuating negative and harmful stereotypes, and widening societal divisions. Reiny takes it in stride, and her business Accent Mediation proofs that mediation skills and having an accent are not at odds, but instead complement each other. Reiny has observed that most individuals are stepping outside of the boxes created by society such as of race and ethnicity, and looking at the bigger picture, being more considerate of the “human race” rather than their individual identities.

MBBI’s International Outreach

Reiny is also someone who loves interacting with and learning from people from various cultures and backgrounds, and MBBI presented the perfect opportunity for this. MBBI’s multiculturalism stresses for her the importance of cultural competence and cultivating practices that sharpen our sensitivities to other cultures. This reduces the likelihood of othering and creates environments where people are more tolerant and understanding of one another.

Current and Future Plans

Reiny currently works in family mediation and is a Parent Coordinator for divorced couples at Accent Mediation. Reiny helps parents come to terms with all issues concerning their children and parenting agreements, all the while keeping in mind the best interests of the minors. Additionally, Reiny facilitates online dialogue circles these days. Reiny wants to continue working in conflict prevention and also hopes to continue working on her dream career: mediation!

Article by Jainaba Gaye, MBBI Writer