Family Mediation Canada News Magazine – February 2021

February 2021                                                                                        Volume 1, Issue 1


A News Magazine for Family Mediation Canada   


Resolution is a newsletter for FMC that provides national coverage of themes, issues, and events relevant to the dispute resolution community


Not a member?  Join us!


Vol. 1. No. 1 February 2021

Prof. Michael Saini

Contributing Editors
Judy McCann-Beranger
Sue Bedier

Published by Family Mediation Canada

Administrative Officer:
Telephone: 778-674-4FMC (4362)
Toll free: 1-877-269-2970

Mailing address:
Box 46003
Quail Ridge PO,
Kelowna, BC
V1V 0B1

Resolution is a publication of Family Mediation Canada. The newsletter is published four times a year. Deadlines for news items and advertising are January 15, April 14, July 15, and October 15.

Family Mediation Canada (FMC) has developed rigorous certification programs for family mediators. FMC currently offers three certification streams – family relations mediator, comprehensive family mediator, and elder mediation mediator.

These certifications are recognized across Canada and internationally as reflecting some of the highest standards in education, training and experience that a family mediator can achieve.

To become FMC-certified, a mediator has to demonstrate a high degree of competency as well as possess high ethical standards.

FMC-certified mediators all agree to accept the complaint and disciplinary process that FMC has developed to protect the public interest in the proper and ethical practice of family mediation.


Executive Committee 


Judy McCann Beranger – NL

Jennifer G. Hubbard – BC

Lorenzo De Franco – ON

Stephanie Melvin – BC

Executive Committee
Mary Damianakis – QC


Board Members


Frank Bulger – PE
Shelley Dumouchel – NB
Rhoda Dobler – AB
Kimberly Leonard – NL
Andre Lorrain – SK
Michael Saini – ON
Margaret Stewart Sweet – PE
Patrick Zakaria – QC

In this issue

Welcome from the President

Family Mediation Canada Anti-Racism Statement

In Focus – Intercultural Insights and Mediation

Practice Tips – Family Mediation Canada Certification

In Summary – Highlights of new research relevant to family mediation

In Spotlight – Achievements and accomplishments of members   

Upcoming Events – FMC training, conferences, webinars, etc.)

List of Conferences

Welcome from the President


COVID 19 has challenged us and created much uncertainty in our lives. We have responded with resilience as we tweak our goals and expectations for a continued transformation. FMC is in a regenerative time where we are witnessing both the strength and the frailty of life. These times have given us opportunities to practice patience and courage, not rushing away from challenge and struggle, but rather leaning into the heaviness with compassion. Our momentum is building as Board members continue to work for a national organization with a proven record of excellence in Family Mediation.

Recent highlights include:

  • The development of a 3-year strategic planning process with our most recent Board retreat being led by renowned facilitator & mediator, Lisa Arora. Immediate priorities include a revitalized website, logo, and newsletter; a complete review of our governance documents; and growing Family Mediation Canada training opportunities and partnerships. We are deepening our knowledge about diversity, welcoming true inclusion of Canadian communities in all our initiatives, and being mindful regarding how to address equity and inclusion in the scope of our work.
  • The Resolve/Resolution newsletter is backA past president, Betty Ife, rest in peace, was a valued editor of Resolve for many years. We are grateful to her and now for the rebirth of our newsletter with special thanks to Dr. Michael Saini, our new editor of Resolution.
  • We have hired specialists to develop a more user-friendly and responsive website. Your input is sought as we move to an improved and updated platform.
  • FMC has nationally supported the growth of mediation services for families since 1985. Certifications are being developed further to answer the national needs of our mediation community.
  • We have hired a part-time researcher to assist in research for our National Child Protection Certification led by Margaret S. Sweet & her dedicated team.
  • FMC and the Elder Mediation International Network (EMIN) have finalized their partnership. A value-added benefit for all our FMC Certified Elder Mediators is dual membership with both FMC & EMIN. EMIN membership will be gifted on completion of FMC certification. In return, FMC can formally use the Code of Conduct for Elder Mediators and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults documents developed by EMIN, with our input.
  • Government Relations – This committee has been established with an aim of building awareness of the national certification standards and developing initiatives with all levels of government across Canada.

In her book, Dying to Be Me, Anita Moorjani asks us to imagine a dark warehouse where we live with only one flashlight by which to see. All we know, within that space, is what we can see by that beam of light. We may look for something and not find it even though it is there. We can only observe where we focus our senses. A switch is turned on. We see the room in its entirety, and nothing is like we imagined. As mediators, we get this analogy. As FMC Board Members we have also experienced such an awakening and are discovering new ways of connecting and learning from one another with a view to making FMC more dynamic and relevant.

Board members are working hard on your behalf. It is an honour to witness the strength, courage, and kindness that flows from their altruistic spirit and willingness to contribute. Together we can make a national difference by continuing to promote programming and certification that will inspire and heighten our sensitivities when working with Canadian families during challenging times. Our actions are motivated by a keen passion for national standards, a belief in the importance of providing credible and consistent services and programs for all our mediators and families and developing ways to stay connected with each other. We want to think together, share ideas and insights, and explore ways to build our capacity.

We wish for each of you good health, a kind heart, and a peaceful mind.

Judy M. Beranger
FMC President



Family Mediation Canada Anti-Racism Statement


Family Mediation Canada acknowledges that in Canada, there has been a long-standing struggle with issues of racism and discrimination, in the form of denial, and in individual or group actions of violence and hate. This has systematically resided in the discriminatory structures, policies, and actions of the commercial, educational, legal, social, and governmental systems, put in place by, and to serve Canadians.

Racism and discrimination are undeniably part of our collective history. It is now time for us to work with others to ensure that they take no place in our future or that of our children. We must work collaboratively to ensure that we all do what is necessary to move forward with respect, honesty, and humility to advance the principles of equality, unity, and truth.

Toward this end, Family Mediation Canada affirms its commitment to respect the rights of all peoples in relation to their knowledge, ideas, cultural expressions and practices, and to ensure that our organization is better informed and equipped to work against racism and discrimination in our sector of society.  Through racial sensitivity training, we are committed to learning how to best be an ally to all racialized groups in Canada. Through consultation and partnership with these groups, we will use our voice and position to best ensure that there is no place for racism, discrimination, and hatred within our professional sector.

For our organization, this is a matter of principle and integrity. We recognize that being inclusive and disavowing racism and discrimination in our day-to-day work is insufficient.  We must go several steps further and adopt a proactive anti-racist and anti-discriminatory approach. Wellness, conflict prevention and all forms of mediation are founded on principles of equal access to justice, procedural fairness, and the mitigation of power imbalances.  Speaking out and acting in ways that promote true inclusion, equality under the law and systemic fairness is who we are as an organization and who we should be as a society.

We acknowledge that we have fallen short of these principles, whether through our actions or our silence. 

We promise to use the lessons of our past to guide our organization towards a better understanding and future for all people.  

As we move forward to publicly and explicitly affirm our commitment to undergo racial sensitivity training, we recognize that we must heal from our histories, own our part of the past, with a view towards cultural humility.



“Family Mediation Canada affirms its commitment to respect the rights of all peoples in relation to their knowledge, ideas, cultural expressions and practices, and to ensure that our organization is better informed and equipped to work against racism and discrimination in our sector of society.”



In Focus 


Intercultural Insights and Mediation
– Mary Damianakis

Diversity encompasses a deep understanding, recognition and respect of cultural differences, and similarities. Cultural differences are always present and continue to evolve within the mediation process. Family mediators need to recognize and adapt to diversity issues regardless of the origin of conflict. Awareness of cultural differences will help family mediators shift their intervention approaches and styles in order to accommodate the needs of clients. Furthermore, the level of openness and awareness to diversity issues will depend upon the family mediator’s personal exposure to multiculturalism.

Family mediation has the ability to reduce hurtful biases and to connect parties by allowing for safe and sincere dialogues.  Disagreements that arise from cultural misunderstandings in families will require the mediator to be familiar with the cultural language.  Here, mediation can raise awareness of the significance of words, gestures, eye contact, tone of voice, and different cultural constructs. The way a word is spoken or unspoken, gestures, tone of voice, a handshake, or lack of it are just a few examples of the many cultural nuances of which a mediator must be aware. Words and gestures can have an array of meanings, interpretations, and attachments depending on the culture. There are many layers of belief systems and cultural communication patterns with which mediators need to become familiar.

Every culture has its own definition and interpretation of the truth. Mediators need to be aware of how cultural truths and beliefs can impact conflict and the mediation process.  Concepts such as honour, loyalty, respect, truth, gender equality or inequality, and social class are a few examples of how truth and culture are exhibited in a variety of ways.

In Greece and Turkey, for example, what is said is not always what is meant, and what is meant is not always what is said.  “The Greek Yes” is common and includes many different interpretations. The meaning behind a “yes” can vary from yes, maybe, no, or simply – I do not know. Culture encompasses more than going towards a yes” and requires that the mediator delve into the definition and understanding of what “yes” actually means to each of the parties. The mediator’s job is to remain curious, non-judgmental, and assist the parties to better understand each other, within the cultural context.   Understanding how the culture works can assist the mediator with the unscrambling of complex multi-layered messages.

In Hong Kong, one will almost never admit to being wrong.  In mediation, this cultural nuance is manifested in various ways such as the prevalence of agreeing with the other party, when in fact there is no agreement. It is imperative for the mediator to ask what agreeing actually means to each of the parties.

In India, one can have a participating party that speaks very rarely; giving an occasional nod or gesture which does not necessarily mean “yes”.  Consequently, the mediator must also be sensitive to the degrees of directness that are culturally appropriate in addition to issues of gender socialization. Hence, the mediator may want to explore shuttle mediation and other helpful interventions and techniques.

On the other hand, in many Aboriginal communities once an agreement is reached the deal is secured with a simple handshake. In many Aboriginal communities, the community elders are almost always consulted and participate in the mediation and decision-making process.


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In some countries like Egypt, Chile, Brazil and Colombia the mediation process may take longer. Mediation is an intimate process and parties may want personal information about the mediator.

The boundaries may vary from one culture to another. However, the mediation process and principles remain the same. Truths are delicate and mediation sessions can sometimes be perceived as emotional by “western” mediators. However, it is important to keep in mind that extended family and community members play an important role in the mediation process. In Egypt and in Turkey, for example, the mediator may be faced with personal questions such as: “Do you have children?” or “Where does your family come from?” These personal questions are normal and the mediator may want to remain open to embracing some of the questions. Much can be learned from accepting such cultural differences.

Frequently in mediation in Sweden, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland (German-speaking) the mediator will encounter complete directness with the truth, regardless of the impact to the other party.  It is important to recognize that cultural differences are manifested and can hinder or undermine the mediation process.  Therefore, it is imperative to decode and probe before the mediator can do effective “issue spotting”. This requires thinking beyond one’s own cultural lens.   Mediators must decipher cultural values, modes of communication and meaning as useful tools to prevent miscommunication. The mediator’s communication tools can assist to diffuse and frame issues relevant to the discussions.

Mediation is a process that diffuses conflict and facilitates a better understanding of the issues by identifying and redefining “the problem” to the parties. The definition of the issue and the formation of questions are dependent on many variables including experience, skill, cultural awareness, exposure, gender, attitude and religious background of the facilitator.  Mediators need to become more sensitized to cultural issues. Cultural competency needs to be cultivated as it benefits not only the profession of mediation but also provides benefits to the clients.  Furthermore, the attitudes and biases that one personally holds will be challenged.

Mediation is a naturally diverse discipline and all mediators are naturally biased. Awareness of biases is a must, as this can help us build better interpersonal relationships while assisting clients in an effective manner.

Mediation is not an assembly line. One mediation style does not fit all. Mediation can expand to embody and incorporate a deeper understanding of cultures, values, beliefs, communications, traditions and jurisdictions. Mediation tools can become instruments to reduce biases and create spaces for cultural understanding and mutual goals. Mediation is flexible and allows for its application in different areas and with any cultural group.  Mediation evokes an awareness and perhaps transformation not only to clients but also to the facilitator. Cultural insight provides a pathway that shifts and reorients our consciousness by opening up our own understanding of diversity.


Mary Damianakis is an FMC Certified Comprehensive Family Mediator and is IMI Certified.  She began working with labour disputes in the 1980s and soon after started working with families. Mary has lived in four countries, and culture is at the center of her work. She hopes to continue to meet the growing and complex needs of international family disputes in a meaningful and respectful manner.  Mary is a past president of FMC and currently serves on the FMC board. She enjoys making tapestries, painting and poetry.




Practice Tips


Family Mediation Canada Certification
We believe that Family Mediation Canada Certification is an essential requirement for any family mediation practitioner or anyone pursuing a career in family mediation. The FMC Certification is recognized as the highest standard of family mediation certification in Canada and as such is an assurance to any referring person or body or member of the public that the ‘FMC’ certified mediator has the skills and professionalism necessary to mediate family transitions.

From its beginnings in 1984, Family Mediation Canada has been committed to advancing family mediation by developing standards of practice that promote high-quality specialized family mediation services for the public.

In 1993, FMC conducted a national consultation to assess whether there was a need to create a national practice and educational standards for family mediators.  The conclusion from the cross-Canada consultation with over one hundred mediators, lawyers, judges, counsellors, and consumers was a resounding “yes” to the need for continuing efforts to define skills, personal attributes, and substantive knowledge required of a family mediator.

In 1997, a detailed, comprehensive grant application to Justice Canada was made jointly by FMC, the Family Justice Division of the British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General, and The Northwest Territory Law Foundation.  A two-year pilot project was developed to create, test and research a certification process for family mediators.  During the test, research, and revision process, many professionals contributed a spectrum of expertise from academic and theoretical to practical.  Experienced mediators who applied for certification offered comments on the assessment processes based on mediation sessions with thousands of mediation clients. Each development built on the earlier works of others and many mediation pioneers contributed their thoughts and wisdom along the way.  FMC owes gratitude for the “commitment to excellence” offered by so many.  As a result, the assessment tools and the certification process underwent a series of revisions.

Prior to its implementation, the certification assessment process was pilot tested and evaluated in four Canadian jurisdictions – New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia (with spaces reserved for applicants from other jurisdictions) – by an independent, external researcher: Dr. Desmond Ellis of York University.  During the pilot study, 136 mediators successfully completed the certification process.  At the conclusion of the pilot study, Ellis reported that FMC’s certification process was reliable and recommended national implementation.

In 2010 FMC was approached by the International Mediation Institute (IMI) and asked if we would like to apply to IMI to become a Qualifying Assessment Program.  After completing a rigorous application process in 2011, we qualified for IMI certification. FMC’s Standards of Practice and Certification and its certification process continue to evolve and develop with feedback from its certified members.


Find out more about FMC Certification by checking out our website


The most recent change to FMC’s criteria for certification is the implementation of two options to become certified. The first option remains to complete the certification process all at once in a one-year time frame and at a reduced rate.  The new second option to become certified is to use the two-level certification process.  Level 1 involves the applicant completing a 30-hour practicum as well as a minimum number of 80 hours of basic training and a minimum of 100 hours of additional training in the following primary areas of mediation with associated fees:
Family Dynamics:                                    –    35 hours
Family and Child Law:                             –    14 hours
Power imbalance and effects of abuse:   –    21 hours
Financial issues including support:          –    42 hours
Ethical Issues:                                         –      7 hours
Drafting agreements:                               –      7 hours

The second level of certification (Advanced) requires the applicant to pass a written exam and a role-play which is then assessed by qualified mediator assessors.  This Advanced level allows the applicant to display the knowledge of the skills required of a mediator and obtain feedback for self-assessment and improvement. The rigorous evaluation makes FMC certification credible in the marketplace.

We are proud of our Certification Process which has proved useful to the mediation community in Canada and internationally as the discipline continues to evolve and develop.  In order to embrace the standards of practice that have been researched and implemented for the protection and assurance that families look for when choosing their Family Mediation Canada Certified Family Mediator, we encourage our members who have not completed their certification to consider doing so in 2021.


In Summary


For this issue, we highlight articles relevant to issues of diversity and mediation, especially relevant to anti-black racism.


Title: Diversity Issues in Mediation: Controlling Negative Cultural Myths

Author: Isabelle R. Gunning


Abstract: This article explores this criticism of mediation. Part I surveys the critics who argue that mediation’s informality and lack of procedure disadvantages members of minority groups and women. Part II then takes the next step that the critics have not taken, explaining how mediation could affect adversely disadvantaged groups. Part III suggests solutions to the problem which involve a greater level of mediator intervention than is generally accepted and defends these solutions.

Source: Isabelle R. Gunning, Diversity Issues in Mediation: Controlling Negative Cultural Myths, 1995 J. Disp. Resol. (1995)
Available at:




Title: Conflict resolution, cultural differences, and the culture of racism
Author: Howard Gadlin  

Abstract:  Analyzes conflicts arising from sexual, and particularly, racial discrimination. It is argued that issues of race and gender are not merely incidents in the universe of disputing in the US (and perhaps, the world) but that they permeate our conflict-ridden culture, adding more complexity to individual disputes while helping to create brand new disputes. Race emerges as a factor that needs to be attended to in 2 types of grievances: (1) grievances in which race is explicitly part of the complaint and (2) situations in which neither the grievant nor the respondent refer at all to race or gender, except perhaps to deny that it plays a part. Rituals of racism, the surplus meanings of racial differences, and racism and the culture of racism are discussed. The case of “Alice” is presented, which provides an example of a conflict in which race went from a peripheral to a central component despite the best intentions of all the actors in the dispute. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Source: Gadlin, H. (1994). Conflict resolution, cultural differences, and the culture of racism.Negotiation Journal, 10(1), 33-46.



Title: #BlackLivesMatter and Conflict Resolution: A trauma-informed approach to mediating claims of race discrimination
Author: Angela Reddock-Wright
Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal
Friday, July 24, 2020


In Spotlight



Cynthia Spratt Goodmundson

It is with great pleasure FMC is presenting our Famma Award for Long Term Achievement and Contribution in Family Mediation to Cynthia Spratt Goodmundson, from Manitoba.

Cynthia began her career as a social worker in 1985. When Family Conciliation Manitoba was formed in 1989 her mediation work began.

Cynthia became a part of Winnipeg’s Unified Family Court in 1997 to write court-ordered assessments.


At this time Family Mediation Canada was looking for provincial sites to begin their certification research and certification implementation and Manitoba was selected as one of four sites. Cynthia was certified during this time as a Family Relations mediator in 1998 and then in 2001 she upgraded to Comprehensive Family Mediator Certification. She participated in an innovative pilot project that implemented a co-mediation model, a mediator with a lawyer. Manitoba funded two other innovative mediation projects and Cynthia participated as a mediator in all of them.

Professionally, Cynthia has contributed as a Board member of Family Mediation Canada, a board member for Family Mediation Manitoba, and she has been on the FMC Certification Committee since 2012.

Congratulations Cynthia and thank you for all of your contributions to the field of Family Mediation in Canada!


Upcoming events


March 2021


What’s Unique about the Transformative Model of Conflict Intervention?

March 11, 2021 11:30 – 13:30 Eastern
Online Webinar
Presented by Robert A. Baruch Bush, J.D
More info here

40-hour Basic Mediation course with Dr. Michael Saini: ONLINE 

Evening Online Workshops

4 hours each Tuesday, Thursday evening sessions (18:00 to 22:00 Mountain Standard Time, 20:00 – midnight Eastern) Begins March 23, 2021 and runs to April 22, 2021

Full brochure here: 

Preparing for Elder Mediation Certification Webinar
March 31, 2021 14:00-15:30 Eastern
Online webinar
Presented by Judy McCann-Beranger
Full brochure here: 

May 2021

Solution Focused Conflict Management
May 12, 2021 11:00 Eastern
Online Webinar
Presented by Fredrike P. Bannink MDR
Full brochure here:


List of Conferences


The upcoming calendar is currently empty


Expressions of Interest


Family Mediation Canada is inviting applications for the contract positions of

  1. Assessor: Family Relations Mediator and Comprehensive Family Mediator.
  2. Registrar: Family Relations and Comprehensive Family Certification

The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 12, 2021 – full details here:
Expression of Interest Certification Assessor summary

Expression of Interest Certification Registrar summary


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CRSI Virtual Conference - March 2021

Thank you all for attending our conference “Fuggedaboutit it – New Ways for Dispute Resolution” with Bill Eddy in March.  We have had positive feedback from the evaluation survey and we look forward to providing other exciting opportunities in the future.

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