At our 8th Annual Conference on October 21, 2016, AFCC-O presented special awards in memory of two colleagues:

 The Honourable Justice Geraldine Waldman for Excellence in the Intersection of Family Law and Criminal Law Relating to Domestic Violence

The Honourable Justice Geraldine Waldman was an innovator and an outstanding voice for families and children, particularly victims of domestic violence. Justice Waldman was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in 1992. She pioneered the creation of the first Canadian court dedicated to hearing domestic violence cases that included both family law and criminal law issues.

Dr. Peter Jaffe was the recipient of this award in recognition of his outstanding dedication to serving families and children affected by domestic violence, and his commitment to educating and mentoring others working in this area.

Dr. Peter Jaffe is a psychologist and Professor in the Faculty of Education at Western University and the Academic Director of the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children. He is also the Director Emeritus for the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System, which is a children’s mental health centre specializing in issues that bring children and families into the justice system in London, Ontario.  He has co-authored ten books, 24 chapters and over 75 articles related to violence and abuse involving children, adults, families and the justice system.  Many of his publications and professional presentations deal with domestic violence, the impact of domestic violence on children, and child custody and access disputes. He has presented workshops across the United States and Canada, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Europe to various groups including judges, lawyers, health, mental health professionals and educators. Since 1999, he has been on faculty for the National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges in the US for judicial education programs entitled “Enhancing Judicial Skills in Domestic Violence Cases”. He was a founding member of Ontario’s Chief Coroner’s Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. In 2009, he was named an Officer in the Order of Canada by the Governor General for his work preventing domestic violence in the community.

A donation has been made in Dr. Jaffe’s name to the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.

The Lorraine Martin Award for Excellence in Dispute Resolution

Lorraine Martin was a pioneer of family mediation and is remembered for her varied contributions to the field of dispute resolution. Lorraine was the Director of the Custody/Access Clinical Program at the Office of the Children’s Lawyer for 17 years.

Ms. Antoinette Clarke was the recipient of this award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to facilitating the resolution of family disputes in a family, child focused and culturally sensitive manner.

Ms. Clarke is a Certified Comprehensive Family Mediator and has provided mediation and related services for over 20 years. Ms. Clarke has provided a variety of internships through community mediation programs and court based services and has served as a coach for a number of mediators. She provides course instruction in family mediation, cultural diversity and custody and access. She is a co-facilitator for a course assessing for power imbalance and domestic violence in mediation and arbitration. Ms. Clarke is a PhD candidate with Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. Her thesis  is called, “An Examination and Understanding of the Significance of Cultural Differences in a Court Based Family Mediation Service within Family Law in Ontario”. She is an adjunct professor with the School of Social Work, York University. She is currently the Executive Director of the Peel Family Mediation Services, and has been a clinical agent with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer for 20 years.

A donation has been made in Ms. Clarke’s name to the Lorraine Martin Scholarship at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

President’s Distinguished Service Award

Award Description: The President’s Distinguished Service Award is an annual award that honours a member for his or her exemplary contributions to the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Ontario Chapter, over a sustained period of time. The individual has made significant and voluntary contributions to AFCC-O objectives through committee participation, education, leadership and mentoring. Through his or her contributions to the AFCC-O, and to the greater family justice system in Ontario, the recipient has demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to serving the needs of children and their families. Nominations should include the candidate’s C.V. and a letter of recommendation outlining the reasons for nomination.

Download President’s Distinguished Service Award Application form below:

President’s Award Application Rev March 14-17

The AFCC-O is pleased to announce that Jennifer Suzor is the recipient of the 2016 President’s Distinguished Service Award. Jennifer has been certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a Specialist in Family Law. She has practised in all levels of the courts, but now chooses to practise exclusively in the area of family mediation and arbitration. She is highly skilled in conflict resolution and knowledgeable about family dynamics and the needs of children. She is the current President of the Ontario Association for Family Mediation. She has undertaken various roles for the AFCC-O. She co-chairs the Walsh Family Law Negotiation Competition; participates in sponsorship and fundraising for the AFCC-O Annual Conferences and the Walsh Family Law Moot and Negotiation Competitions and was very involved in organizing the 2014 AFCC-O Annual Conference in London. Jennifer also organizes, promotes and leads various AFCC-O outreach events and other AFCC-O initiatives in Windsor and Southwestern Ontario.

Previous Recipients:
2016 – Jennifer Suzor
2015 – Dr. Barbara Fidler
2013 – Vince Ramsay
2012 – AFCC-O Outreach Committee – Deborah Moskovitch (chair), Dena Moyal, Steven Benmor, Linda Popielarczyk, Linda Chodos, Angela Khelem, and Maggie Hall
2011 – patti cross

Nicholas Bala Award For Student Excellence

The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Ontario honors Professor Nicholas Bala with an annual scholarship to a student who demonstrates qualities similar to his own. He is one of Canada’s most respected legal scholars and his contributions to family law seem endless. His work is interdisciplinary in scope and he has had a major impact on developing knowledge on the effect of legislation and the justice system on children and families. He has written extensively on many areas of family justice issues.

The AFCC-O is pleased to announce Shely Polak as the recipient of the 2016 Nicholas Bala Award for Student Excellence.

With a Master of Social Work Degree from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, Shely Polak is a registered social worker and an accredited family mediator with the Ontario Association for Family Mediation. Working in the Greater Toronto Area, Shely specializes in providing therapeutic, mediation and assessment services for children and families experiencing high conflict separation and divorce.  She is also an agent on the clinical panel of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) and is a roster mediator with the Ontario and Superior Courts of Justice.  All of this is in addition to her many significant contributions to the AFCC Ontario including her service on the board of directors.

Shely will be completing her PhD in Social Work from the University of Toronto this year. Her dissertation focuses on reintegration therapy for children who resist contact with a parent post-separation. Using a qualitative research design, Shely has interviewed experienced mental health professionals across Canada and the United States to comprehend how reintegration therapy is understood theoretically and practised in the field. Her goal is to help establish empirically based guidelines or standards of practice for the treatment of parent-child contact issues.

Interested in the interdisciplinary practice of social work and law, Shely completed a practicum placement at the OCL during her Master’s program. It was during this time that her passion for working clinically with families in a forensic capacity solidified. She explains, “It was during my time at the OCL when I first encountered children that refused contact with one of their parents as a result of the chronic high conflict. The complexity of these families sparked my interest from a clinical, legal and research standpoint.”

Since entering the doctoral program, Shely has participated in academic research and published on topics relating to separated/divorced families involved with the court system.  She says that she is grateful for being in the unique position where she can blend her “passion for more knowledge and research with real world clinical practice”.

Inspired by the hard work of people and organizations across the field, Shely states, “I am thankful to those individuals who have helped me develop professionally in this difficult area of practice and for organizations like AFCC and AFCC-O who dedicate so much effort to fostering interdisciplinary practice work within the field.”

Previous Recipients:
2015 – Katie Hunter
2013 – Joanna Hunt
2012 – Jaclyn Mackenzie
2011 – Ambreen Walji
2010 – Tiffany Lau

The deadline to submit your application for this award is May 1st each year. Please see the below application requirements in our Terms of Reference document, and download the Application form, and Teacher/Professor Report Forms to complete and submit.


Nick Bala Scholarship Award Terms of Reference

Nick Bala Scholarship Application

Nick Bala Teacher-Professor Report Forms