I believe that people in conflict, or who have suffered harm, need to be heard and acknowledged to move forward. I am empathetic, open and thoughtful in my interactions with people who are experiencing anger, sadness, anxiety, and emotional fatigue due to conflict or harm.
I have a unique set of skills and knowledge, acquired over 25 years, which I creatively apply as a neutral. My experience has heightened my ability to communicate with people from diverse cultures and perspectives about what they need and want in order to move forward in a positive way. I have a strong analytical mind and knowledge of the law, which ensures that I understand the legal and social context of each situation and the issues that need to be addressed and resolved by a process.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba in 1986 and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Queen’s University in 1990.
I practiced law from 1992 until 2002. I worked as an associate lawyer with Nelligan Power in Ottawa for 5 years, practicing in the areas of family and estates law. In 1993, in addition to my litigation practice, I commenced a family mediation practice. In 1997, I moved to my own family law and mediation practice in Ottawa and practiced in association with Steinberg, Allard, Thompson, d’Artois, Rockman, George for 5 years.
Since January 2002, I have worked in the fields of mediation, adjudication and dispute resolution. I have provided mediation, facilitation, adjudication and dispute resolution services to individuals and groups, including individuals who are seeking to resolve family law issues and people experiencing conflict in community, workplace or organizational settings. I have worked with different levels of government, communities and, private and public organizations. I have also been an adjudicator in private and public settings.
I am a knowledgeable and effective family mediator and I meet the requirements of a family arbitrator in Ontario. I practiced exclusively family and estates law for 10 years and I keep my knowledge current on all developments in family law.
I developed and taught basic and advanced courses in family law, at the University of Ottawa law school, and on domestic violence and the intersection of gender and the law, at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I have also lectured on family law topics in other settings. I was part of a group of family mediators and trainers who designed and delivered the first collaborative family law training program in Ottawa.
I have completed training on power imbalances and violence in interpersonal relationships, as required by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General for family arbitrators. I also have knowledge of power imbalances and violence from the courses I have developed and taught, from representing clients who have experienced interpersonal violence and from conducting inquisitorial adjudications with people who have experienced abuse and interpersonal violence. I have acted as a third-party screener for another family arbitrator. I also sat on the Advisory Board for the Supervised Access Program in Ottawa.
I have 15 years of experience as an adjudicator, which is very similar to the role played by a family arbitrator. I have adjudicated hundreds of claims brought by people who suffered sexual, physical and other abuse as children. This has given me extensive experience conducting arbitration processes in a fair and impartial manner and the skill to write clear, well-crafted decisions. I have assessed the credibility and reliability of the testimony of hundreds of people who have appeared before me. The claims I heard occurred in an inquisitorial process, which means I conducted all of the questioning to draw out the evidence and cross-examine where needed. This makes me ideally suited for Family Arbitrations or Secondary Arbitrations where you want to proceed without lawyers on some, or all, of the issues.
Human Rights and Workplace
I worked as a dispute resolution consultant for the Centre for Conflict Education and Research (CCER) at Carleton University. My work with CCER included a project for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which involved facilitation, education and process design with the mediators, managers, officers and lawyers who were involved in the creation and implementation of a conciliation process.
For other clients of the Centre I performed workplace conflict assessments and made recommendations for dispute resolution processes and training programs. I also facilitated and mediated workplace conflict and harassment complaints for clients of the Centre, including Carleton University, the Ottawa Police, government and private clients.
I have worked in my business, and in association with other dispute resolution firms, to provide assessments and design and deliver resolution, facilitation or training processes to address a broad range of legal or social issues, including ones related to human rights, harassment, sexual harassment, workplace conflict, educational needs, group dynamics and decision-making.
I worked as a Mediation Skills Assessor for the graduate certificate program in conflict resolution at Carleton University, Ottawa for ten years. I have completed numerous advanced courses in mediation and conflict resolution, including workplace harassment investigations training with Aptus Conflict Solutions, in Ottawa, Ontario.
I worked for the Canadian Human Rights Commission as a legal advisor on a casual basis for a two-year period. I worked with the Investigations Branch to prepare a needs assessment and then developed training on a new investigation process, and report format, being implemented with other early resolution processes. I also organized a one-day learning seminar on the law of human rights and I delivered a seminar to prevent sexual harassment to a First Nations organization.
In April 2018, I was appointed as a part-time member of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In this role, I am conducting mediations addressing allegations of harassment and discrimination.
I have been an adjudicator with the Indian Residential School Adjudication Secretariat in Regina, Saskatchewan since October 2003, working in the initial dispute resolution process and then the Independent Assessment Process (IAP). I adjudicated hundreds of claims for compensation for physical and sexual abuse, wrongful confinement, other wrongful acts and actual income loss that occurred to former students in the Indian Residential School system. I also conducted reviews of other adjudicators’ decisions as a designate of the Chief Adjudicator.
I was appointed as a member of the Refugee Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada on a full-time basis from May 2016 to May 2017 and then on a part-time basis from July 2017 to May 2018. In this role, I determined appeals and wrote appeal decisions in relation to allegations of persecution, including on the basis of political opinion, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation and nationality.
As a member of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, I will be conducting hearings to determine allegations of harassment and discrimination.
Research, Education and Training Programs
In addition to teaching as a sessional instructor at different universities, I have experience conducting in-depth educational/training needs assessments and working with stakeholders to design and deliver educational programs.
I have designed and delivered private training on mediation, the power of apology to resolve conflict, domestic violence, human rights issues, investigations, advocacy skills, communication skills, interviewing skills, drafting skills and professional ethics and judgment.
Since 2002, I have been a non-practicing member in good standing with the Ontario Law Society.
I am a life-time member of Family Mediation Canada. I sat on the Board of Directors for a period of time, organized the content for a national conference and edited Resolve magazine.
I am a member of the Ontario Association of Family Mediators, the ADR Institute of Ontario and the Counsel of Canadian Administrative Tribunals.