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Alternative Dispute Resolution Symposium

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

Sessions for the 2018 Alberta ADR Symposium

Premier Symposium Sponsors

Opening Keynote Session
Justice Joanne Goss
Nancy Mannix

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, Justice Joanne Goss, will reflect on the role played by both private and publicly-funded ADR in the historical development 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.

Session #1: Who Are We?
Practitioner Development

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.

Identity: Following the Inner Track to Resolving Conflict Impasse
John Radford

Mediators are encouraged to view conflict as unmet needs or incompatible goals, so when parties reach an impasse we revert to unpacking positions and interests to find the way through.  More often than not, this doesn’t work and we get to join the parties in the quagmire!  But there is a whole deeper world that if understood provides mediators with options for breaking the impasse and finding resolutions that are as exciting as they are numerous. In this session we will explore the world of inner conflict and identity as another tool to resolve entrenched conflict.

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.

Journey to Empathy
Martin Golder

Mediators know empathy is a central skill.  Being 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
Gordon Sloan

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. 

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

Cultural Competencies
Narmin Ismail-Teja

Are you looking to understand what is meant by “cultural competence” and “inclusion” and how to apply these to your daily practice in arbitration and mediation?  This session will bring insight, champion the importance of why differences matter, bring consciousness to everyday interactions with others to impact how people feel, and uncover how inclusion enhances your work and strengthens our communities.

Narmin’s work is shaped by her own personal experience with clients across sectors and by ongoing research. She brings a “head, heart, hands” approach to learning environments, whether the topic is unconscious bias, strategy, valuing difference, creating efficiency or building trust in work groups and in mentoring relationships.  This approach ensures participants have practical strategies to support their knowledge and commitment to transform their work practice.

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. 

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 fulfill 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 21st 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 perspective 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. 

ADRIA will also be hosting a one-day pre-symposium workshop on May 14th to engage participants in intermediate to advanced discussions on this topic. 

Opportunities for Practitioners
Moderator: Jeannine Harlton
 John Radford, Deborah Howes, Grace Baker

This session will bring together successful ADR practitioners and leaders in the conflict management field to discuss opportunities for aspiring practitioners to grow their own practices and enhance their careers. ADR processes are becoming more prevalent within institutional systems and it is growing culturally as a common and effective method for resolving disputes in Canada. How can practitioners best position themselves to find opportunities that might not always be in plain sight?

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

It’s Not Over When It’s Done: Bringing People Together After an ADR Process
Eva Malisius
Constructive conflict engagement does not end with an ADR process completed.  How do colleagues come together after a mediation process?  How do neighbors live door to door after arbitration?  This session focuses on impact beyond the ADR intervention and how to shape assistance that supports individuals and communities to come together and learn from conflict.  Building on what has been working well in Alberta and drawing on practices and approaches from around the world, this session focuses on future success of the field and ADR profession.

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.

The Ethical Issues concerning Med-Arb“Get what you want, Get what you need”
Carol Hickman

Mediation is seen by many as an attractive option to attempt to resolve disputes; however it does not guarantee a resolution.  Arbitration is another alternative; but it is criticized as being too formal and not providing the parties to a dispute enough control over the outcome.  Med-arb, the hybrid model which uses both of these ADR models, is gaining popularity.  However, med-arb does not come without limitations.  There has been significant debate amongst the legal community regarding the merits of med-arb.  Those in favour of med-arb suggest that it is a more cost effective and efficient dispute resolution alternative than litigation.  Those opposed to med-arb argue that the process offends the principles of natural justice and may raise concerns of bias.

This presentation will examine the pros and cons of the med-arb process, in particular, what the med-arbitrator must do to maintain his/her neutrality throughout the mediation and arbitration.  It will also examine the Med-Arb Standards of Conduct in BC.  The presentation will include a PowerPoint and video vignettes to help illustrate the ongoing issues and concerns regarding the med-arb process.   

Working with Youth
Winston Blake

PMAST's Restorative Action Program is a community-based initiative hosted in high schools and sustained through the shared responsibility of multiple partners and other supportive organizations and citizens. The program works with youth to develop and practice conflict management, relationship management and leadership skills using an approach that focuses on Prevention, Intervention and Re-connection (PIR). 

This presentation will provide knowledge and understanding of this proven method of working with youth. Special focus will be given to understanding the processes needed to build capacity for restorative justice in schools and how to work with multiple stakeholders. The research and findings from a seven-year study on the PIR service delivery framework will be presented to illustrate the success of the framework across ten high schools. 

Session #5: How Are We Doing It?
Breaking Barriers

Framing an ADR Mandate: distinguishing between expectations and outcomes
Eva Malisius

Mediation, arbitration, facilitation, adjudication, coaching: many of the terms associated with ADR practices are used interchangeably, though the process, focus, and anticipated outcomes are distinctly unique.  It is often challenging for clients or parties to know exactly what to ask for or what kind of process they want.  This session focuses on framing a mandate from clients for particular services and how to distinguish between expectations and outcomes in order to provide and contract services accordingly.

Identifying Parallels in Decision‐Making Processes between Indigenous and Western Systems
Dr. Reg Crowshoe

This presentation will explore the importance of building relationships between Western and Indigenous society and culture, and identify opportunities to create an ‘ethical space’ to have conversations and build trust. As a case study, Reg will refer to the Voices of Understanding document that was created in partnership with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) in order to work towards creating an ethical space where Indigenous communities and the AER can work together.

ADR and Tribunals
Panel Christine Macken, Jill Mason and Alex MacWilliam 

 In Alberta there is increasing integration of ADR processes into the work of Administrative Tribunals related to areas such as oil and gas development, environment, health, labour, and land.  In this interactive session, three senior members of high profile and progressive administrative tribunals will share their experiences using a variety of ADR processes to resolve a broad range of complex and highly contentious issues.  They will talk about the successes, challenges, lessons learned, and their vision/thoughts for the future of ADR in the world of regulatory tribunals.

Deescalation and Crisis Response in the Community Settings - Lessons Learned
Ian Mathieson

In this session Ian will discuss the experience of working in a front line environment with service users who are often in crisis and highly escalated. Using this work as a starting point we will consider the what learnings can be garnered to in form broader conflict and conflict transformation practices.  What skills can we develop when we understand crisis as an emotional response to triggers? How do triggering events inform less critical conflict relationships?  How do the setting conditions impact outcomes and perhaps most importantly, how does our own self-awareness, worldview and experiences impact our response to conflict? 

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 has been developed and organized 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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