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

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.

The AFCC-O is pleased to announce that the Honourable Justice Eleanor Schnall  is the recipient of the 2017 President’s Distinguished Service Award.

The Honourable Justice Eleanor Schnall has offered the community almost 50 years of guidance and wisdom as a teacher, lawyer, and finally, as a Criminal and Family Court Judge. Over the last number of years, she has provided exemplary and unfailing leadership and direction in London’s Youth Therapeutic Court. In 2015, Justice Schnall was the recipient of the London Family Court Clinic’s Frank Brennan Award, to recognize her tireless efforts and determination in identifying and eliminating service barriers and gaps for youth straddling both the justice and mental health systems.

Justice Schnall has also been a leading voice in London, Ontario for the development of domestic violence policies. She co-founded Women’s Community House, a shelter in London for abused women and children, and she served on the first board of what is now the London Abused Women’s Centre. She has been a member of the London Coordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse for more than 35 years, and she serves on the Advisory Committee to the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children affiliated with Western University. In 2016, Justice Schnall was the recipient of the John Robinson Award, to recognize outstanding achievement in the work to end violence against women.

Nicholas Bala Award For Student Excellence

Previous Recipients:
2016 – Shely Polak
2015 – Katie Hunter
2013 – Joanna Hunt
2012 – Jaclyn Mackenzie
2011 – Ambreen Walji
2010 – Tiffany Lau

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 Stephanie Ovens as the recipient of the 2017 Nicholas Bala Award for Student Excellence.

Ms. Ovens obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University, and worked at a family law firm prior to entering law school. In addition, she volunteered as a women’s support worker with the Elizabeth Fry Society and co-facilitated a “Teen Girls’ Night” at a non-profit agency. This sparked her interest in family law, and in particular the importance of an interdisciplinary approach.

Ms. Ovens attended the University of Toronto Law School, graduating in June 2017. While at U of T Law she volunteered at the legal clinic, in both the family law and refugee law divisions. Ms. Ovens was also involved with Downtown Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC), where she was a member of the Family Law Rotation Project. The PBSC emphasized an interdisciplinary approach to family law. Ms. Ovens also participated in the 2016 Walsh Family Law Moot and Negotiation Competition and won the award for Best Appellant Factum. The following year, she coached the winning 2017 Walsh Family Law Moot team. She was a recipient of the Leadership Award Scholarship in 2016.  As part of her application, Ms. Ovens submitted a thoughtful research paper titled ”The Right to Move On: Re-Evaluating the Need for a Presumption in Favour of the Primary Caregiver in Family Law”.

Currently Ms Ovens is articling at a large family law firm in British Columbia.  In July 2017, she had the opportunity to co-author a Continuing Legal Education paper on family law that was presented at the BC Biennial Family Law Conference. Ms. Ovens is also volunteering with Access Pro Bono, providing advice in the area of family law to low-income individuals. Her achievements to date suggest potential for a bright and influential career in family law.

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


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.