“I have always been attracted to the art of the possible and helping to move a group of people toward what they want to achieve.”
Discovering the Interplay Between Peace and Conflict
Christine Peringer is a group facilitation and mediation specialist based in Ottawa, Canada. Her background in law and peace advocacy, as well as her passion for bringing people together, has allowed her to successfully facilitate diverse conflict transformation initiatives throughout her career. Christine has served communities and organizations, both nationally and internationally, in leadership positions with prominent non-profits and on the boards of several Canadian national coalitions. Her career continues to evolve through her international engagements and active participation with MBBI.
In her first year at Osgoode Hall Law School, Christine was exposed to the complex interplay between peace and conflict and how disputes are managed in the legal system. She said, “I found it fascinating, but felt strongly that the confrontational style I was being taught would not necessarily serve the interests of those involved.” After completing her first year, Christine spent a year interning at the Ontario provincial legislature where she explored models of conflict management that did not involve adjudication. She then returned to her studies with this broader perspective and was inspired to join a nonprofit organization called, “Lawyers for Social Responsibility.” This group advocated for nuclear disarmament under the premise that the law should be a tool for peace and conflict resolution. Working alongside peers in this effort “… gave me an important skillset and helped direct my career interest,” Christine explained.
After graduating, she launched into a series of jobs within the peace advocacy movement. Christine became a co-facilitator within the Canadian Peace Alliance where she helped the national coalition of advocacy groups, churches, community-based consortia, and national organizations, such as Greenpeace, run shared campaigns. She also served as a coordinator with the ‘Centre for Days of Peace,’ which was an association of public health and peace organizations promoting humanitarian ceasefires in world war zones during the late 1980s.
Helping People to Have the Conversations they Need
In subsequent years, Christine started a family and spent time raising her children where she, unexpectedly, found the opportunity to refocus her career. “Raising kids taught me a lot about mediation,” she said. One book that she read during this time, “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk,” served as a source of inspiration. It addresses conflict resolution tactics for parents, such as the importance of affirming children’s feelings in order to transform a potentially heated dilemma into a rational and productive discussion. Many of these principles served Christine well in her subsequent career as a peace practitioner.
“I took a lot of mediation training during that time, including courses in organizational conflict. I was immediately drawn to the complexity of this work.”. After twenty years as an independent consultant, Christine’s business serves nonprofit organizations, community and advocacy groups, government leaders, and coalitions that are committed to making the world a better place. Through a process that is collaborative, results-oriented, and custom-designed, she offers conflict resolution, strategic planning, program evaluation, and other forms of communication and facilitation training. Christine explained, “It is exciting for me to play a role in helping a group of people achieve something together that they did not think was possible.”
International Engagement with MBBI
“I joined MBBI to collaborate with a host of mediators who are dedicated to this type of work!” After a conversation with one of MBBI’s founding members, Suzanna Norbeck, Christine was accepted to the MBBI Climate Change Policy Project where she has become an active member of the education subgroup. As an official Observer at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations, Christine, along with three other project members, spent two weeks in June attending “The Bonn Climate Change Conference” in Germany. When prompted to provide her thoughts on the conference, Christine said, “It was thrilling to witness what I consider to be the most important conversation happening on the planet, and it was stimulating to be thinking about how we, as mediators, can play an important role in promoting collaborative approaches to disputes related to climate change.” MBBI’s climate change group is currently meeting on a monthly basis to develop plans for a workshop and policy paper that they hope to circulate in the new year.
Building on her life-long concern for global issues and international peace, Christine is happy to be a member of MBBI. She is eager to make new contacts, serve as a consultant, and potentially expand her participation in additional working groups. In her own words, “I always enjoy opportunities to facilitate multi-party collaborations that are trying to achieve something that will make the world better for all!”
To learn more about Christine, visit: www.peringer.ca
Article by Juliana Heffern, MBBI Writer