Alternative Dispute Resolution Symposium

Edmonton, Alberta
May 15 & 16, 2018
Pre & Post Training May 14 & 17

Sessions for the 2018 Alberta ADR Symposium


Opening Keynote Session

The Opening Plenary will focus on celebrating what we have achieved in the ADR community and recognizing how far we have come. 

Our first keynote speaker will address the historical development of “Access to Justice” through various government initiatives, institutional resistance to change, and how private ADR fits into the concept of access to justice. 

 Our second keynote speaker, Nancy Mannix, Chair and Patron of the Palix Foundation will speak to the brain science that policymakers need to take into account when making changes at an individual, organizational, and systems level, and the long-term strategy Palix used to successfully influence policymakers in many government departments and social agencies to base their decisions on the brain science. Palix, through the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, partnered with the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta and the provincial government to improve the Parenting after Separation PAS public education program, and is currently funding research into the efficacy of the New Ways for Families NWFF court-diversion pilot program that ran in the Judicial Centres of Medicine Hat and Calgary. PAS and NWFF are directed at helping parents resolve their custody disputes outside of court litigation. These are only two of the many philanthropic projects in which Palix is involved.

Justice Joanne Goss
Nancy Mannix

Session #1: Who Are We?
Practitioner Development

Working with Identity
John Radford
Insight Mediation 
Cheryl Picard

This workshop will introduce ADR practitioners to Insight mediation - a leading edge approach to intervening in conflict that views conflict behavior as rooted in the anticipation of a threat and a decision to defend against the threat. The advantage to framing conflict as a pattern of threat and defend rather than the presence of incompatible goals and needs is the ability to recognize a dynamic interactive pattern of behaviour useful for conflict analysis and intervention, especially trust-building.

 Insight mediation takes an interpretive view of human action seeing it as a response to how everyday interactions are interpreted; interpretations that are embedded in dynamic and emergent social relations from which individuals make meaning and then act. Dr. Picard, one of the founders of Insight mediation, will introduce participants to Insight mediation skills and strategies that engage parties in an interactive learning process to confirm the accuracy of meaning-making and interpretation, and so all involved become aware of the values motivating their decisions and actions.

Cultural Competencies
Narmin Ismail-Teja

Culture competence affects fairness, ethical conduct, and fact-based decision making. This session will help you understand more about the meaning and relevance of “cultural competence” and more about the nature of culture and its potential impact on behaviour. Participants will examine the possible effect of cultural differences on their communications, judging witnesses, assessing evidence, conducting a fair proceeding, decision making and decision writing.

The FOAJ will also be hosting a one-day post-symposium workshop on May 17th to engage participants in intermediate to advanced discussions on this topic.

Journey to Empathy
Martin Golder

As mediators know empathy is a central skill. To be able to really listen and to understand what the reality of a situation is like for the parties and to help those parties to that level of understanding of each other is paramount in our world.

Martin Golder started a practice in conflict management as an adjunct to his architectural practice in 1996. He quickly discovered that empathy was not one of his native gifts or perhaps it had been surgically removed in British boarding school. Using a contrived surface veneer of empathy, mechanical empathy if you like, works well as conflicting parties are too wrapped up in their own conflict to notice the artifice. However Martin decided that ‘real’ empathy might work better and so embarked on a quest to find it. This participatory presentation is the result of that quest.

Magic and meditation are involved. 

Session #2: Where Are We?
Environmental Scan

A short presentation giving perspective on how far we’ve come in Alberta will be followed by a participatory world cafĂ© exploring the broader ADR community; what is out there, what does everyone do, and where do we fit together. 

Gordon Sloan

Session #3: What Keeps Us Up Night
Scenarios for Reflections

Trauma Informed Practice for ADR
Nicole Sherran

Going through a legal dispute is stressful, especially when something personal is at stake. Scientific research indicates that individuals who have experienced significant adversity or trauma in their own childhoods can be more sensitive to stressful situations in their adult lives, and can exhibit aspects of emotional dysregulation such as difficulty controlling their behaviours and emotional reactions, as well as difficulty with problem solving and decision-making. For these individuals, the stress of a legal dispute may trigger behaviours and responses that can derail a mediation, negotiation or hearing.

Nicole Sherren will explain the effects of adversity and trauma on the developing brain and how this kind of experience can leave a footprint on our adult biology. She will also outline key principles of trauma-informed practice, a an approach to service delivery that recognizes the biological impacts of trauma and has as a central tenet the avoidance of triggering trauma responses in individuals.

Mediating in the Face of Major Upheavals
Mohamed M Keshavjee

At a time when human societies are experiencing unprecedented challenges due to rapid globalization, accelerated technological growth and massive climate change, increased conflict is bound to take place at various societal levels and within and between nation states. Adversarial approaches are not the answer and progressively Mediation is beginning to be viewed as a more sensible approach.

Dr Mohamed M Keshavjee former Canadian lawyer and a global specialist on cross cultural mediation discusses in this lecture the type of issues we will have to be prepared for as massive changes engulf us at a bewildering rate. He argues that the nature of the family is changing, people are living longer, climate changes will affect food production and distribution, new scientific breakthroughs particularly in the field of biomedical engineering will give rise to new ethical issues and demographic movements will give rise to increased tensions both within nation states and internationally.

In this presentation Dr Keshavjee urges for greater cultural literacy coupled with increased flexibility to ensure that mediation is able to fulfil its greater promise- the restoration of bruised relationships.

An advisor on mediation to various global institutions and a keynote speaker at leading conferences internationally. Dr Keshavjee opens new vistas for dialogue on the role of mediation in the 21 st century and the part Canada can play in this process.

Working with the Perpetrators of Workplace Harassment and Bullying: Criminal, Crazy, Contentious, or Clueless? 
Sylvie Matteau

This talk will offer a reflection on different approaches to “deal with” so called “perpetrators” of workplace harassment. Typically, formal investigations are the preferred option for determining whether or not allegations are upheld. There’s an assumption that ‘one truth’ exists and this can be determined through an essentially adversarial process, which will result in the ‘guilty’ party being exposed and punished. As a result, the perpetrator is determined to be the “problem”, having to admit to a crime or a character flaw.  

Mediation offers a different perspective. Because the mediator is a neutral entity and comes from the that negative workplace behaviour is a process of escalating conflict dynamics between the participants (target and the perpetrator in the case of presence of harassment allegations), the problem is defined as the conflict. The difficulty arises when the perpetrator, refusing to take responsibility for their contribution to “the problem” will shift its definition over to the other person. In any case, this method does not address the negative behaviour.

Because perpetrators do not see themselves as “the problem”, their response to regular or conflict coaching methods in attempts to discover and see the other’s perspective and somehow expect a degree of empathy are met with defense. The client’s sole objective is generally to convince their employer (and the coach) that their behaviour was not problematic, and that accusers were unjustified in their allegations.

Specialised coaching based on the perspective that perpetrators are clueless to the impact of their behaviour and that there is no requirement for them to admit to their crime or character flaws appears to be at this time the most productive approach in getting perpetrators to develop new strategies and change the negative behaviour. This opens up a golden opportunity for conflict resolution practitioners who are very positioned in the workplace to contribute productively to its improvement. 

Stream 4
Speaker TBD

Session #4: Where Are We Going?
Innovations in Dispute resolution

The Art of Asking Questions in Collaborative Practice
Jacinta Gallant

Conflict resolution professionals need strong communications skills and deep insight in order to help our clients get to the root of their problems. Asking questions is one of our vital communication skills. We ask questions to aid in understanding. We intend to be helpful and open, so when we get a defensive or resistant reaction, we wonder what went wrong? Hopefully, we have all felt the joy of a question that led to brilliant, illuminating insight!  This workshop is about how can we do this more.

Opportunities for Practitioners
Panel: TBD
Stream 3
Speaker TBD
Stream 4
Speaker TBD

Session #5: How Are We Doing It?
Breaking Barriers; Strategies to Raise the Profile of ADR

ADR Spectrum - One Size Doesn't Fit All
Eva Malisius
Conflict Management Systems Design
Maureen Maloney
Stream 3
Speaker TBD
Stream 4
Speaker TBD

Closing Plenary

Developing A Collective Impact Strategy 
Facilitator: Liz Weaver, The Tamarack Institute

The goal is to for the final half-day session to result in an actionable working document. As a network of diverse organizations and partners we need to join together for a collective impact initiative in order to strengthen the ADR community and tackle complex issues.

How do we make the next great strides in ADR? How do we create a future where ADR is the preferred method for dealing with conflict not the alternative? What do we have to put aside/embrace to make that happen? What’s holding us back?

Collective Impact is a long-term, multi-sectoral effort to bring about significant change in a community. Whether driven by the community’s need to solve a problem, fix a crisis, or create a vision of a better future, there comes a time to develop a strategy.”

“Creating a Common Agenda. All participating organizations (government agencies, non-profits, community members, etc.) have a shared vision for social change including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it with agreed upon actions.” A common agenda is not a strategic plan. We need to move away from strategic planning mentality and move towards that which allows us to think together.”

Liz will present an overview of a Collective Impact and its five conditions, as well as specific tools that help do it. This session will build on a draft Common Agenda developed by stakeholders in the ADR Community. Join us to share your voice and contribute to the Common Agenda. This will be an interactive and participant focused session. Ultimately we hope that with the development of a Common Agenda we can have more of an Impact as an ADR community.

The 2018 Alberta ADR Symposium is brought to you by the Government of Alberta Dispute Resolution Network and the broader ADR community including non-profit and educational organizations that support and promote the use of ADR:

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