In 2020, the AFCC-O President’s Distinguished Services Award was renamed the Dena Moyal Award for Distinguished Service, to honour the memory of one of AFCC-O’s most dedicated supporters.
Dena began her career as a childcare worker with the Huntley Street Services group home for teenage girls estranged from their families. In 1980, she obtained her LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1982. In 1986, she was invited to join the Office of the Official Guardian (now the Office of the Children’s Lawyer). After many years representing children in custody/access and child protection cases, Dena rose to become Legal Director of the OCL’s Personal Rights department in 1996. In this role, Dena oversaw the OCL’s child representation program across the province for many years, developing policies, best practices and training programs for child’s counsel, and directly supervising the work of OCL panel lawyers and in-house counsel.
Dena wrote and spoke extensively about issues pertaining to the representation of children in family law and child protection matters, and presented papers at numerous national and international conferences – including those organized by the AFCC. When the Ontario Chapter was formed in 2008, Dena was one of its first members and was instrumental in shaping the organization from the outset. She travelled extensively across Ontario with the AFCC-O banner, forms, and general information, participating in community events and conferences to help spread awareness of AFCC-O. She and the outreach committee developed two presentations featuring interviews with adult children of divorce and incorporating the perspectives of other family members and professionals. These presentations were recorded so that they could be made available for local community outreach events, and are still used today as a tool to promote awareness of how children are impacted by family conflict. Dena and her fellow outreach committee members received the President’s Award in 2012 to recognize their tremendous efforts to promote the AFCC-O organization and its vision for children and families in Ontario. In 2013, Dena served as President of AFCC-O.
Throughout her career and after her retirement, Dena maintained strong connections with members of family law bench and bar, as well as clinical colleagues, both in Ontario and oversees. She was deeply committed to supporting children’s involvement in family law decision-making, and finding creative ways to shield children from family conflict and thereby nurture their healthy growth and development. Dena is remembered for her calm and gentle leadership style, and her tireless efforts to promote positive outcomes for children and families. She is also remembered for her close relationship with her family, and could always be encouraged to share a story about her grandson.
The Dena Moyal Distinguished Service Award is an annual award that honours a member for their exemplary contributions to the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts – Ontario Chapter over a sustained period of time. Past recipients of the award have made significant and voluntary contributions to AFCC-O objectives through committee participation, education, leadership and mentoring. Through their contributions to AFCC-O and to the greater family justice system in Ontario, candidates for this award must have demonstrated a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to serving the needs of children and their families. Nominations should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org and should include the candidate’s C.V. and a letter of recommendation outlining the reasons for nomination.
Prof. Bala’s contributions to the AFCC-O and the greater family justice system of Ontario and beyond have been exemplary, sustained and much of it inter-disciplinary. The legacy work that makes all of us at AFCC-O so very proud is the AFCC-O Parenting Plan Guide and Template, an initiative that Prof. Bala proposed in 2018 when he was a member of the Board of Directors of AFCC-O and that he chaired and led to a successful conclusion and release in January 2020—since updated and translated into French.
Within the AFCC-O community, Prof. Bala was a long-time member of the Board of Directors. He is a stalwart member of the Standing Sub-Group of AFCC-O in Kingston. Prof. Bala is a constant presence in AFCC-O working groups who have made submissions on topical issues, such as the AFCC-O Response to the Bonkalo Report.So, too, is Prof. Bala a constant presence in AFCC-O research, including as a member of the three person team investigating “COVID-19 Pandemic and Family Justice in Ontario” in the period 2020-2022. Prof. Bala’s work has been recognized by AFCC Parent, in 2008 when he won the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award, and in 2020 when he and Barbara Fidler received the President’s Award.
In the greater family justice system, since 1980 Prof. Bala has been on the Faculty at Queen’s Law, as well as a Visiting Professor at other universities. Prof. Bala is an expert on Family and Children’s Law, with research focusing on issues related to parental separation issues including parental alienation and relocation; children in the family courts, including the role of child’s counsel and judicial interviewing of children; spousal abuse and its effects on children; children in the criminal courts; and access to family justice. Much of his research work is interdisciplinary; he has undertaken many collaborative projects with psychologists, social workers, criminologists and health professionals to better understand the effects of involvement in the justice system on children, youth and families. Prof. Bala has published extensively in journals in law, medicine, psychology and social work. His work is often quoted by all levels of court in Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada and courts of appeal across the country, and he has also been cited by courts internationally.
Prof. Bala has been in the vanguard of family law research and professional education for years, as a result of which he has garnered many prestigious awards, including the Queen’s University Prize for Excellence in Research in 2006, the Law Society of Ontario Medal in 2009 for his contributions to family justice education and research and the Ontario Bar Association Award of Excellence in Family Law in 2009. In 2013 Prof. Bala was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2019 he was named the William R. Lederman Distinguished Professor at Queen’s University.
In short, Prof. Bala’s contributions to AFCC-O and to the greater family justice system are a gold star standard, exemplary by any measure.
Justice Andrea Himel received her B.A. from McGill University (1993) and her joint LL.B./M.S.W degree from the University of Toronto (1998). She was a student and an associate following her 2000 call to the bar at Smith Lyons LLP (now Gowling WLG). From her early days as an articling student, Andrea had a laser focus on practising family law. Smith Lyons’ loss was Torkin Manes’ gain when Andrea moved to Torkin Manes LLP. While there, she joined the legal panel of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.
Prior to her judicial appointment, Justice Himel was a sole practitioner with a focus on family law, mediation, child protection and children’s law. As a member of the Child and Family Services Review Board, she adjudicated and mediated cases involving school expulsions, adoptions, secure treatment, and other Children’s Aid Society matters.
In 2020, Jusice Himel was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, Family Court Branch in Newmarket.
Along with her very impressive work career, Justice Himel was among one of the founding members of the AFCC-Ontario chapter. During her tenure on the AFCC-O board, Justice Himel was chair of the conference committee for several years, chair of the research committee, and member of several other committees. She was always involved in outreach and promoting a strong membership. She subsequently became president of AFCC-O where she continued to instill these values into her leadership style.
In addition to all of this, Justice Himel was a major contributor to the development and marketing of AFCC-O’s Parenting Plan Guide (the “PPG”) and Template. She recently published an article with former board member and colleague Prof. Nick Bala on the use of the PPG.
Justice Himel was and remains one of AFCC-O’s greatest champions.
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.
2019 – Tami Moscoe
2017 – Justice Eleanor Schnall
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
Award Description: From 2010 to 2019 the AFCC-O had the Bala Award for Student Excellence to recognize achievement by students in law, social work and related disciplines who intended to pursue careers in Family Law. The Award was created when the Ontario Chapter was getting established to help us connect with students.
Since 2010, the AFCC-O has had an extensive program of outreach to professional students, including establishing the Walsh Family Moot and the Walsh Family Negotiation Competition, and expanded its conference scholarship program and mentoring program, so in 2019 the Board decided to cease giving this Award. The AFCC-O continues to strive to strengthen ties to students and to support and mentor those starting their careers.
The AFCC-O also acknowledges the contributions to Family Justice of Professor Nicholas Bala, whose interdisciplinary research has had a major impact on developing knowledge on the effect of legislation and the justice system on children and families. The Award was named in his honour in 2010 when he had 4th stage metastatic melanoma, but happily he survived, served on the AFCC-O Board for three years, and presented the 2019 (and last) winner with the Award!
2019 – Priya Khalsa
2018 – Beth Ambury; Shawn Stewart
2017 – Stephanie Ovens
2016 – Shely Polak
2015 – Katie Hunter
2013 – Joanna Hunt
2012 – Jaclyn Mackenzie
2011 – Ambreen Walji
2010 – Tiffany Lau
In October 2016, the AFCC-O presented two 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.
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.