As a way of thinking and being, restorative practice is an emerging social science founded in Justice, that provides a framework for building community where people feel connected, safe, and are thriving.
Belonging is perhaps the single most important feature in violence prevention. How schools, workplaces, communities create a sense of belonging, a sense of community, is the main premise for developing an effective violence prevention strategy.
Restorative practices and dispute resolution training are beneficial for workplaces, schools, boards of directors and anywhere that people connect and interact within a community.
A restorative response (conversations, circles, conferences) is specifically designed to help an individual stay connected, even when they have made a mistake or a have been a victim of wrongdoing. By “making things right”, restorative practices seek to knit wholeness back into a community which has been torn; it seeks to repair relationships so students/staff/family can focus on their school/work/life goals, and fully reconnect as a member of the community.
Rooted in Indigenous worldview or pedagogy, circles provide a safe environment for people to share their views and experiences with one another to promote understanding and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation. Circles are universal. The principle of inclusion (egalitarianism) assures participants from diverse cultural-ethic backgrounds feel welcome and safe to be their authentic self. According to Desmeules (2017), Restorative Justice offers a portal for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities to reclaim traditional ways of knowing (relatable to any historically oppressed population) to address hurtful/harmful behaviour to oneself/others, by reconciling underlying historic injustices with the aim of restoring safety and well-being.
In celebration of National Aboriginal Day, the President's Aboriginal Advisory Committee members at Portage College will undertake restorative justice training.
The two day training is designed in partnership with the International Institute of Restorative Practices—Canada and in alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.
The President’s Advisory Committee’s function is to advise the President & CEO on the College’s history of indigenization, its current activities relative to indigenization, and possible further indigenization activities. The Committee is tasked to develop and initiate an Inclusion and Indigenization Plan that is broad-based, engenders respect, trust, and institutional growth.
Portage College has an interesting history approaching its 50th anniversary in 2018. With funding cuts, a group of Aboriginal students faced with the pending closure of their school decided to challenge the government by staging a sit-in. Through struggle, activism and community collaboration, the programming was restored and the College steadily grew to the institution it is today.
You can learn the full history of Portage College, directly from the stories of people involved, on their YouTube channel:
We interviewed Dr. Trent Keough, President & CEO of Portage College, about this internal training initiative.
How are restorative practices used at Portage College?
Last year an employee attended a course by Gayle Desmeules from True Dialogue on resolving conflicts on campus, conflict mediation, restorative justice, and this resonated with how we dealt with conflicts on campuses in the past and how we want to journey forward within our organization and look at ways to incorporate with student life.
We want those in conflict to take ownership, as well as have understanding how their actions impacted others, empathy to correct behavior voluntarily, as opposed to applying strict punitive actions to the individuals involved.
We want to develop future citizens that accept and recognize their role in society with accountability.
We want our institution to view the world as a community and recognize the impact of others. It’s a structured way to pause, bring people together and reflect to create a plan for reparation and to move forward together.
What barriers exist to indigenizing? Why is it important?
In comparison to many post-secondary schools in Alberta and Canada we live in respect for Indigenous culture. We could always do more and better though.
When you look at our history and our relationship with Métis and Cree Peoples, you quickly realize that we were gifted from them to the communities we serve. We have a high proportion of Indigenous students in our institution, it fluctuates in the last 50 years but there’s a consensus we’ve historically recognized that we are on Treaty 6 Territory. That Indigenous culture has impacted the way in which we behave. For many institutions its: How can we Indigenize? We on the other hand are looking at shining a spotlight on how Indigenous cultures have changed our organization and our culture over time. We see this as an opportunity to say: Where are the subtleties of Indigenization in our organization? Where are the pieces that are overt? It’s an opportunity for us to self-explore.
How does this training fit into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
This training is taking place because we established the President’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, which has a cross section of people that work at the college. It is by mandate 85-90% populated by Indigenous persons. This group is leading, assessing and evaluating how well Portage College has done with Indigenization: how well we have embraced, celebrated and used Indigenous worldview in our curriculum, political and economic outlooks.
The real sensitivity for us is that Indigenization isn’t about reverse colonization. It isn’t forcing people to think otherwise. It’s giving them the opportunity to think otherwise in a celebratory manner and a respectful manner. While we recognize that Indigenous cultures in this country historically and currently experience persecution and oppression, this is an opportunity for all Canadians to own the cultural heritage of Canada.
We’re looking at how can we incorporate Indigenous world views into our organization so that it increases our success, magnifies and recognizes the presence of Indigenous people within our organization and the communities we serve.
It’s about inclusion and we already see the enthusiasm for our institution being genuinely interested in exploring this topic in a healthy and helpful way. We have been shaped by working with Indigenous peoples. We need to reflect how they have influenced our practices over the years.
What are you hoping participants take away from this training?
A genuine openness to understand Indigenous world-view, understand the principles of restorative justice, and to ground our team in a set of principles that are formational.
It’s a learning and team building exercise that is acutely important as we go forward with our Indigenization program. This group is going to make critical decisions regarding which elements of Indigenization the college will focus on for the next three years.
Anything that increases awareness to individual student needs, whether they are Indigenous or not, benefits everyone. When we incorporate restorative justice best practices into conflict in this organization, it applies to everyone.
Want more information?
Learn more about Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training at Portage College.
Learn more about Restorative Practices training at ADRIA.
Want to bring dispute resolution training to your organization? Check out our Corporate and Group Training options.
Thank you to Gayle Desmeules, Dr. Trent Keough and Jaime Davies for their contributions to this article.
You can find these and other resources in the Bell Let's Talk Toolkit.
Educate yourself, show kindness, and strive to be a better listener and friend. Be part of the conversation to eliminate stigma around mental health once and for all.
We spoke with Joanne Munro about her favorite parts of being an instructor for our upcoming course,Separation & Divorce Module 1: Case Development & Screening. Below you can read her thoughts on the importance of the course for mediators and what students can expect to take home as practical skills.
“Mediators who work with clients who are separating and/or divorcing need to be aware of and know how to manage complications such as high conflict, mental health challenges, domestic violence, and the emotional intensity involved when couples and families are dealing with major life changes.
“I have been practicing in this field privately and for Alberta Justice Solicitor General’s Resolution Services for the past eight years. ADRIA approached me and two experienced colleagues to design a course for mediators from the perspective of what mediators new to this field need to know. So we started with a blank piece of paper and had the freedom to develop a practical and comprehensive 10-day course.
“Module 1 will provide mediators with an overview of the legislation governing separation and divorce, ethical considerations, and how to manage a mediation from initial intake through case development, screening and determining whether to proceed. Mediators will have ample opportunity to practice what they’ve learned.
Students will leave equipped with practical skills. They will have:
“What is great about this course is that students will receive copies of pertinent legislation, templates, samples agreements and a myriad of other resources that took the course authors years to accumulate. We only wish we had been given these resources when we started out in the field!
“I enjoy helping students learn how to mediate high conflict individuals/couples, helping them understand the need and how to screen all clients for domestic violence to optimize safety for those involved, and having robust discussions around ethical dilemmas. I recommend this course for all mediators who want to get into the field of separation and divorce mediation.”
You can find more information about our Separation & Divorce Module 1: Case Development & Screening course and upcoming course dates on our website. You can learn more about Joanne's work on her website.
By: Robyn Jacobsen
The main reason is that the problems we have to solve today are more complex than they have ever been.
Solving them requires a variety of skill sets, perspectives, and approaches, and a lot of pieces need to come together smoothly for resolution to be successful.
Training programs like the Consensus Decision Making program offered through ADRIA provide a solid foundation for practitioners to build their skills and start to develop the experience they need to successfully manage collaborative, consensus processes.
Collaboration means working together towards solutions. Consensus is the way the group reaches agreement. Consensus usually means that everyone involved agrees to the final solution. A collaborative, consensus approach creates durable solutions to complex issues, while ensuring that everyone can live with the outcome and there are no winners or losers.
This way of doing business is more than just consultation. It provides a forum for participants to have meaningful discussions and to engage in conflict in a constructive way. Participants can discuss and test ideas without prejudice and then build solutions together – the reason participants engage in consensus processes is to produce something better than they can get on their own. Everyone has a unique piece of the puzzle and everyone’s interests are addressed, creating shared ownership and buy-in to the final agreement.
An implicit benefit of consensus processes is that mutual understanding and respect develops as people search together for the solutions. Participants place a huge amount of importance on the trust and relationships they are able to build through these processes.
Working as a facilitator and a mediator of collaborative, consensus processes that are designed to take into account everyone’s interests and find solutions that everyone can agree to is a dream come true, and a passion!
All these years later, I have built extensive experience as a facilitator, planner, advisor, strategist and project manager for a wide range of collaborative dialogues and complex, multi-dimensional issues.
I have recently started my own consulting practice based in Edmonton that provides facilitation and process design services. I focus on designing collaborative processes, consensus building, and interest-based approaches. I have had the amazing opportunity to work with government, industry, and non-government organizations in the resolution of complex public policy issues in Alberta. My role in these discussions requires an integrative and collaborative approach to develop solutions that everyone can live with.
Robyn Jacobsen has 8 years' experience acting as a facilitator, planner, advisor, strategist and project manager for a wide range of collaborative dialogues. Robyn designs and hosts processes for groups who want to meet and work together in a more collaborative way.
This summer I became the new Manager of Marketing & Communications at ADRIA. My background, besides in communications, was in public legal education. I had seen the impacts of dispute resolution and believed in healthy conflict resolution, but it was still mostly uncharted territory for me.
In fact, I don’t think I really understood the impact of training in conflict resolution until I had the privilege of taking ADRIA’s Communications in ADR course. I didn’t fully know what to expect from a course at ADRIA. I had heard from students, instructors and other members that the course was transformative – but I didn’t truly understand what that meant until I was immersed in it.
The Communications in ADR course was more rewarding than I could have imagined; it is unlike any other course I’ve taken.
No matter your learning style, ADRIA courses will reach you.
The class consists of a bit of lecturing, some videos and other visuals, a few activities (even a bit of homework!) and a lot of group work and role playing. It was very hands-on! The emphasis was placed on practicing the skills as we were learning them as well as observing our classmates and giving them feedback.
The instructors are phenomenal.
They were relatable and made me feel comfortable; this is so important when you’re in a hands-on class. I felt comfortable taking risks and making mistakes because I knew they’d be there to support my learning and engagement.
They also had a wealth of knowledge and were able to answer any questions we had – about the course material, about becoming a mediator, or about the industry in general. Their passion for the field was palpable.
The courses give you knowledge and skills that you will use in your professional AND personal life.
I was surprised by how much personal development I gained throughout the course. There was so much self-reflection; sometimes I was thinking about conflict in the workplace and often I was thinking about my interpersonal relationships. I had a new perspective and new skills I wanted to adapt in the whole of my life, not just professionally. The training is robust.
I was able to put what I learned to use immediately.
Before the course was even through, I was picking up skills and was already using them. Through the hands-on learning, you are practicing the skills with your classmates immediately. In the evenings, I was practicing the skills with my family. I saw places where I could make changes and improvements in my life that very day.
If you’re looking to enhance your communication skills, make a career change, or you want a leg up in the workforce, check out the Communications in ADR course. Communications in ADR is a prerequisite for our other courses and forms the foundation of further learning in conflict resolution.
If you’ve already completed it, check out some other course options for the next step in your dispute resolution studies!
And more! (check out the full listing of benefits of membership)
All the details and fine print are below:
New member credit is applicable to anyone who was NOT an ADRIA member on 31 October 2017. A $100 credit towards any training program offered by ADRIA will be applied to any new membership account opened and paid for between 1 November 2016 and 31 December 2016. This credit cannot be transferred or combined with organizational or group discounts and must be expended before 31 December 2017.
Referrals from Current Members:
Referral credit is applicable to any current Full, LINK or Associate ADRIA member. To qualify, you must send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org identifying the referred candidate. Upon the paid enrollment of this candidate as an Associate or Full ADRIA member before 31 December 2016, a $50 credit towards any ADRIA membership renewal, conference or training expenditure will be applied to the referring member account. This credit cannot be transferred, and must be expended before 31 December 2017.
By Gordon Andreiuk, President AFMS
How binding is the standard clause in a settlement contract, a.k.a. minutes of settlement, that requires the parties to attempt mediation before being allowed to bring a court application?
For the most part, Queen’s Bench Justices in family chambers have been upholding and showing respect for the requirements of that clause, and would adjourn or refuse to hear a court application when the person responding or defending against the court application brought that clause to the Justice’s attention. The Court of Appeal in Henderson v. Henderson, 2016 ABCA 256, recently reversed the decision of a Queen’s Bench Justice who did not uphold that clause. In the Henderson decision, the Court of Appeal wrote that, “having agreed to this requirement, the [person bringing a court application] cannot simply ignore it, and there was no basis for the Chambers Judge to dispense with mediation. Dispensing with mediation merely rewards the [person who brought the court application] for breaching the provisions of the Settlement Agreement.”
Court of Appeal decisions are binding on all Queen’s Bench Justices. So now all Queen’s Bench Justices, without exception, will need to uphold the requirements of that clause in a settlement contract.
I have been using the word contract because for some time now the court system has recognized that individuals involved in a dispute have the right to contract into a dispute resolution process outside the court system.
The Court of Appeal in Abernethy, 2005 ABCA 103, had dealt with a situation in which the litigants contracted out of the standard court litigation process, and into an arbitration process, albeit an arbitration conducted by a Queen’s Bench Justice. The Court of Appeal in Abernethy enforced the outcome of the arbitration, and also that the arbitrator’s decision could not be appealed.
Last year in an unreported decision, Sagrafena v. Sagrafena, 4806 016173, December 8, 2015, Justice Langston found that a divorcing couple had contracted out of the Queen’s Bench rules of court when they decided to negotiate in the collaborative divorce process. In his oral decision, Justice Langston stated that “to suggest that while in the midst of a collaborative law process, the parties must simultaneously be conscious of a plot running inexorably towards litigation is to defeat the whole purpose of the collaborative law process.” Justice Langston was in effect upholding the parties’ contract/ choice of dispute resolution process.
I believe that the court system in Alberta is slowly facing the reality that it too has limited resources, it needs to create incentives for people to resolve their disputes outside the court system, and that this will improve access to justice for the public. Upholding and giving respect to contracts to resolve dispute outside the court system is one small part of creating those incentives.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get in the Education Department here at ADRIA is: “How will I find mediation practice opportunities once I have finished my educational requirements?” This is one of the simplest questions to answer... and yet, it is also where more fledgling mediators stumble than any of the other steps. This is because it is not an easy step. Whether it is financial or time constraints, a lack of confidence in skills, or a decidedly introverted proclivity towards never joining anything ever (you know who you are), sometimes practice is the hardest thing to do. But consider this, when a potential student contacts me and asks “What do I need to do to become a Qualified Mediator?” I send them a nice neat list outlining these steps:
It is just one word. It doesn’t look that daunting. It shouldn’t be that hard. But for many new would-be mediators (myself included) this is the hardest part. Perhaps this is why your teachers told you to “Practice, practice, practice!” – To give it the space and weight it deserves.
Finding practice opportunities where members can receive quality coaching is one of the keys to becoming a successful mediator. The benefits of practice are plenty. Students have the opportunity to develop and integrate their skills through intensive and individualized coaching. Students are able to develop relationships with their practice group members, as well as with their coaches. And, students are able to practice, practice, practice without fear of developing bad habits.
Now that we all know just how important it is to find quality practice opportunities, where does a student go to find these? What I tell my students when they ask me: “How will I find mediation practice opportunities once I have finished my educational requirements?” is almost invariably the same answer: private coaching or our Online Practice Sessions.
Once again, these options sound easy enough. But, I rarely receive requests for a list of approved coaches from interested students; our Online Practice Sessions have only had one practice session go forward in the year it has been available. So, what is an Education Administrator to do? Of course, thinking back to my teacher background, I know what I must do... I am going to have to make this fun!
- Jocelyn Christian
The Conciliation and Arbitration Board, or CAB, provides dispute resolution services where at least one party is a member of the Ismaili community. The focus is on civil matters such as commercial and family issues, including those relating to matrimony, children of marriage, property division, and testate and intestate succession. CAB also works with other Ismaili Institutions in the areas of dispute prevention, conflict management and addressing issues that arise during and after the dispute resolution processes. The Board is staffed and operated solely by volunteers. ADRIA is proud to support the work of the CAB, and has worked to see the CAB's international mediation training program is recognized as meeting the high standards of ADR Canada's national designation program.
Shairoze Damji and Amin Poonja are the first regional CAB members in Alberta to receive their ADRIC Q.Med designations.
Shairoze Damji is a second term mediator with the Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the Prairies. Shairoze holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Calgary and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Manitoba. Shairoze was admitted to the Law Society of Alberta in 2002 and is currently a Senior Legal Counsel at TransCanada. She is an active member of the Canadian Bar Association and serves on the executive of the Diversity Section and on the Equality Committee. Her commitment to pluralism and access to justice is evidence by her role as Board Chair of the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, as Chair of Evolve, an diversity employee resource group at TransCanada, and her involvement with the Reforming Family Justice System initiative.
Amin Poonja is a professional biologist and has worked in the fields of pest management and public health for over 35 years. He completed his undergraduate degree in Biology (BSc. Biology) from the University of Ottawa and a postgraduate (Dip (MPM) in Pest Management from Simon Fraser University.
He has a strong interest in conflict resolution and is currently the Chairman of the Aga Khan Conciliation and Arbitration board for Edmonton. He believes that mediation has an important role to play in conflict resolution.
Over the last 25 years or so, he has been actively involved in volunteering on various institutional bodies within the Ismaili Muslim and the greater community, including being Chairman of the Aga Khan Education board, Vice Chair of the Aga Khan Social Welfare board, Member for the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Boards for Edmonton, President of the Pest Management Association of Alberta, Member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Pest Management Association, member on the Telus - Yellow Pages Advisory Board and on board of directors of the MRJC (Mediation and Restorative Justice Centre).
His interests are Travelling and learning through meeting and engaging with people.
Currently he is President of Ecopest Inc. – a company located in Edmonton dealing in Pest control and Hygiene services. He is married with 2 children (actually young adults).
Congratulations to Shairoze and Amin!
In the field of Human Resources, relationship and conflict management is just part of the job. Conflict will arise in any workplace, but how that conflict is handled can either build relationships or disintegrate them. Strong conflict management skills become crucial for HR professionals. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practices are based on interest-based communications skills that can effectively diffuse workplace conflict and enhance workplace culture.
We spoke recently with Chuck Smith, an HR Professional with a distinguished 40-year career with 36 of those years being at Syncrude Canada Ltd. Chuck has recently retired and is an independent contractor in Edmonton. Chuck has worked hard to raise the influence of conflict management training and skills within the field of Human Resources. He is the Past President of the ADR Institute of Alberta (ADRIA), and has served on the Board of Directors for both ADRIA and ADR Canada for most of the past decade. Chuck also influenced the formation of an ADR Certificate Program for HR Professionals in Alberta.
Through professional development training, Chuck realized the importance of conflict management skills. He saw a clear difference in how he could effectively approach and diffuse workplace conflict as an HR professional.
“During my ADR training I could understand how my approach and intervention with workplace conflict had many flaws. While good intentions and my natural communication skills that drew me to the HR field were always there, my ability to be effective in resolving disputes was lacking. I can honestly say, as a result of my ADR training the employees, management and my employer have been better served.”
His skills as an HR professional improved and he saw growth in key competencies.
“It took a while but with time, perseverance and practice I have become very comfortable using what I learned in my ADR training. Some of the more helpful competencies include asking probing questions at the appropriate time, paraphrasing, reflecting feelings, empathizing appropriately, reframing and listening to understand. All are critical competencies in HR.”
When conflict arises, Chuck has a fresh perspective on how to approach the situation.
“My first priority is to seek to understand before being understood. Helping others feel heard has opened many difficult relationships and allowed for increasing my effectiveness at resolving workplace disputes for others as well as my own.”
Not only did Chuck see the change he could create in resolving interpersonal conflict, but he also realized how the bigger picture of how his organization manages conflict could change.
“While the company I worked for recognized the value in using ADR to resolve disputes, the company policy did not contain clear instruction on the use of ADR. This is a huge area of opportunity for organizations to significantly improve their ability to have a respectful, attractive workplace. Much more needs to be done to help HR professionals to understand and implement an Integrated Conflict Management System (ICMS).”
When reflecting on the training he received, Chuck observed that it not only made him better at his job as an HR professional, but impacted all of his relationships.
“My ADR training helped me improve my communication skills. I am better able to clearly understand others interests and ensure I am heard and they understand my interest. This has gone a long way to improve my effectiveness at resolving differences at work and at home.”
If you’re interested in pursuing dispute resolution training to round out your human resources skill set, check out our course Conflict Management for HR Professionals.
Your source for ADR information and expertise.Alberta's association of mediators and arbitrators.
Our main office is located in Edmonton:Room CE 223A - Ralph King Athletic CentreConcordia University of Edmonton Campus7128 Ada BoulevardEdmonton AB T5B 4E4
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