A Short History of Family Mediation in BC

Although we tend to spend a lot of our time focusing on the future it is good to also consider and honour the past.  I was asked recently to provide a short summary of the development of family mediation in British Columbia – “just four or five paragraphs”.  Well, as you can imagine, once I started the process of researching and recording what emerged was a much longer piece.  The story is a fascinating chronicle of creativity, perseverance, collaboration and courage.14955766-history-3d-word-sphere-with-magnifying-glass-on-white-background

I am not a family lawyer or family mediator, although, in my role with Mediate BC I have certainly learned a lot about the field over the past several years!  So I had to reach out for help on this project – and I’m really glad I did.  Peggy English provided me with her personal recollections of the “early days” and loaned me her copy of the report of the National Certification Implementation Pilot Project 1997 – 1999 led by FMC.  Jerry McHale reminded me of the wonderful paper he prepared for a conference in Hong Kong in 2007 entitled “The Development of Mediation in British Columbia, Canada”.  Catherine Morris shared with me the extremely comprehensive and thoughtful chapter (appropriately called “Canada”) that she contributed to a soon to be released book titled: “Mediation in Asia-Pacific: A Practical Guide to Mediation and Its Impact on Legal Systems” (note 1).  Irene Robertson, Executive Director of the Family Justice Services Division, BC Ministry of Justice, devoted considerable time describing the evolution of the Family Justice Counsellors in BC and their significant contribution to BC families.  Shelina Neallani and Darrin Hotte provided information about more recent developments, including BC’s new Family Law Act.  I am very grateful to all of them for their help!

The development of family mediation in BC was truly a labour of love and the field has developed through the dedication of many talented people from a wide variety of backgrounds.  We can celebrate the diversity of this story.

What started out as 4 or 5 paragraphs grew to a summary of over six pages.  I invite you to get a nice cup of tea and take a read.  I learned a lot and it gave me hope for the future.  I’m sure we have missed really important events and topics so I apologize in advance.  Please let me know what needs to be changed either by commenting below or directly to me at .

Both this new summary and Jerry McHale’s paper have been posted to Mediate BC’s website here.

Kari D. Boyle, Executive Director, Mediate BC Society

Note 1:  edited by Fan Yang and Guiguo Wang.  New York: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, and Hong Kong: CCH Hong Kong, 2013.

Photo credit:  http://adekunleadebajo.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/adebajo-a-look-into-history/

Categories: Access to justice, Family Law, Family Mediation, MediateBC, Mediation

Leave a Comment