Name: Yacub Adam
Roles/Titles: Board Member at FOAJ, Professor of Political Science, Vice Chair of the Human Rights Commission in Yellowknife and currently a political consultant.
There are so many to pick from. There are of course the usual serious, profound, uplifting and well trodden ones. So, I tend to like the less known and perhaps slightly irreverent ones. The slightly off the wall ones if you like. There Winston Churchill clearly had the edge. As a political scientist this is one of my favourites, for its directness and perhaps some underlying truth:
“Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way they ask for directions.”
On a more serious note, one of my favourite quotes is from Tariq ibn Ziyad, a Muslim General who led the conquest of Spain. It comes from the Quran. He says:
“I shall not worship what you worship, you do not worship what I worship. I am not a worshipper of what you have worshipped, and you are not a worshipper or what I have worshipped. To you, your religion, to me, my religion.”
It underlines tolerance and it says – Look, I am not here to interfere in your life, in your beliefs, in your work, and I don’t expect you to do that in mine. There’s a sense of ‘we can live together’. I consider the period of Islamic Spain at that time as one of the first multicultural societies.
When did you start working with FOAJ?
I’ve just been appointed in the last 4-5 months. In fact, I haven’t been to my first meeting yet! Can you tell me a little but about your story getting to where you are now? I grew up in Malawi in Central Africa. I went to boarding school there at a very young age, and then I went on to the UK for school and then university. I lived there, and my first teaching appointment at university was there, at the University of Edinburgh. Then, I went to West Africa for almost 15 years and taught politics there. My specialization is in African politics but I taught many other fields of politics. Then I went back to Britain and taught at the University of Glasgow before coming to Canada.
Coming to Canada in some sense is a bit of serendipity. I’ve always wanted to live a decade of my life on each continent. For a while I assumed I might be able to do that, but I’d forgotten that when you have children it’s much harder to do. I ended up thinking I might be in Yellowknife for a couple of years and ended up being here a good part of 20 now.
How did you get involved with the administrative justice field?
Quite honestly, I didn’t even know about FOAJ. When I was appointed as a member and then Vice Chair of the Human Rights Commission we started doing some courses through FOAJ. I found them extremely enlightening and it underlined many of the things I believed and cared about. Then, I was appointed to sit on the board.
What are some common misconceptions about the industry?
I’m not an expert on all of this, but I assume that like all over the world, I think when something is to do with the legal or quasi-legal side of something, people often assume the processes are complicated, bureaucratic and too legalistic to navigate simply. People tend to be intimidated by that, so they assume that it’s not something they can deal with easily, and often refrain from dealing with it entirely so public education and training like FOAJ does is of enormous value.
How could you combat that misconception?
I suppose, general education. But I also think partnerships with organizations, like Human Rights, etc, that help people to be educated about their rights and educated about how they can achieve those rights when those rights are trampled. Basically, opening doors in terms of information. Education is one of the greatest avenues in terms of enlightening and training people. Education is one of the biggest means by which this kind of outreach can be accomplished.
What’s been your favourite part so far, working with FOAJ?
I haven’t done anything with them yet, but they’ve been exceptionally sweet and kind and generous in terms of helping me out and setting up my first meeting. So I’m not sure yet! So I would argue that so far perhaps this my favourite part, talking to you!
What are the values that drive you?
I’ve always believed in fairness and justice for all, so my interest in FOAJ and human rights is based on that. I do care about how people are treated in all aspects of life. I tend to stand up for the underdog. In some senses it’s fighting for something that’s just, fair, that makes a better world, that makes people generally happier in some senses, and not trodden down, not bullied, not intimidated, not pushed into the back alley as it were. So, I would argue that it’s fighting for all of those things in an honest and open way.
Your top three favourite books/movies?
Wow. Hard! I read a lot, and a lot of academic stuff as well. There are so many! I’m currently re- reading a book by Erna Paris called The End of Days. It’s about the North African invasion of Spain. It deals with the flow of a new culture and religion coming in. The conflict and the contest that took place. It’s a great book to read with a great deal of history and dynamics at play and many lessons for today’s world.
I’m also re-reading Arguably by Christopher Hitchens. He was a British author who was very provocative, but not in a senseless way. He took up important issues and analyzed them. He was very
critical, very honest, and often saw through all the triteness that one finds sometimes when you try to deal with current issues. His essays are always great fun to read, extremely provocative and make you think a great deal, above all he is honest and direct, traits I admire.
For movies, I like stupid movies or very serious movies. So why very stupid movies? Well, I don’t like being emotionally, or in any other way, manipulated. I don’t like movies that are not credible, so I don’t really enjoy movies that are scary or movies that create fiction that I find hard to believe. So I like really silly movies where you can sit back, blank your mind, just relax and enjoy your popcorn!
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Read, listen to music, catch up on what’s happening in the world. Physically, I like to play golf, I enjoy just being out on the golf course to blank my mind a little bit. I enjoy gardening, again, for the same reason. When that’s not possible, having long, lazy meals with my family and friends. It’s always fun to share food and beverage, break bread with family and friends. It’s a time when you commune, you talk, you discuss, you argue, do whatever you normally do as a family. That’s something I treasure and enjoy.
What three words describe you best?
A tricky one this, but I suppose I’m enthusiastic about things I care about. I give it my all. I can be serious sometimes – but I do believe I have a robust sense of humour, that doesn’t make me too difficult to spend time with. I like to laugh, joke, poke fun! Above all, I am curious about everything: people, where they come from, what they eat, what they do, what’s their history, what’s their life about? I learn a great deal from that. If you’re not curious, you don’t learn.
Is this a role you would have envisioned yourself in 10 years ago?
No, not really, to be honest. I didn’t even know FOAJ existed then. But, I have always served on boards and agencies for a very long, long time, so in some senses yes. This is something that caught my imagination. I felt they did things that I value and care about.
Who was your role model growing up?
I would argue, and this is something I’ve told my children, that perhaps the best role models I ever had were my parents. I went to boarding school very early on, so the lessons they had to teach me came very early in my life. They taught me strength: be strong, don’t be pushed around. Have self-respect: for what you value, what you care about, and who you are. And have dignity, behave with dignity. They taught me to fight for fairness, to fight for justice. In terms of general principles, these are the values I’ve lived by all my life. They came from my parents by and large, either through explicit instruction or through their own behaviour.
What skill would you love to learn, work-related or in general?
My wife would say, and perhaps I would agree with her, that I need to be better at new technology. I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to doing this, that, and the other, on computers and phones, the apps, the various other things you do, so probably to be better at that. But, quite frankly, I don’t think I would enjoy the process. I know that’s a contradiction in some ways. I’m very curious, but when it comes to these things I’m not very curious. I just want them to work and that’s all I care about, so, perhaps in that sense, I may remain a dinosaur. But yes, I would probably benefit from better technological skills.
What’s the most fulfilling part of the work you do?
When you see that you are making a change in society, in people’s lives, and that those lives are for the better, not for the worse, and that you are actually filling a gap that exists. That gives one great personal satisfaction, that one is actually able to achieve that.
What’s your hidden talent?
I can’t be absolutely certain, but I think I have the ability to listen patiently. I am a good listener and will listen to people with whatever issues they have. Perhaps to learn, listen to people patiently, and help others when I can, to lift them and help them get out of whatever doldrums they are in. Above all, I care about people. I care about their lives, how they live them, and how one can make it
better. We always have a responsibility in that regard and I take that responsibility quite seriously. I’ve cared about human rights ever since I was very young, living in Malawi, and it’s been an uncomfortable companion for me. Uncomfortable, in the sense that it pricks my conscience, something I’ve got to live with, something that you know you need to make changes to make people’s lives better, fairer, more just.
Name: Kathryn Oviatt
Titles: Barrister and Solicitor, or Lawyer, Qualified Arbitrator, Partner at Oviatt Law, Labour Arbitrator, Tribunal Member for the Alberta Human Rights Commission, Hearing Panel roster member for the Real Estate Council of Alberta.
Favourite quote: “Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou
When did you start working with FOAJ?
I was just appointed recently, in April 2019.
Can you tell me a little bit about your story getting to where you are now? I.e. where you went to school, where you grew up, etc.
I was born and raised in Edmonton, so I’m a lifelong Edmontonian. I went to the University of Alberta for both my Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and for my Bachelor of Laws degree, both awarded with distinction. I articled at a large law firm called Field Law. Following that, I went to the Court of Queen’s Bench where I was legal counsel for the justices. I returned to Field Law and worked there for 7 or 8 years in Labour Law and Professional Regulation. In 2014 I left Field Law to join my husband at Oviatt Law and to start a neutral adjudication practice.
Why did you pursue a career in administrative justice?
When I was a summer law student, I worked for a tribunal and that was my first introduction to administrative law. I worked for the Municipal Government Board and did a lot with property tax appeals and subdivision approvals. I remember getting the job thinking it was good for my career, albeit a bit boring. However, I realized it wasn’t boring at all. It had a lot of nuance and was really focused on fairness that deeply affected people’s lives. I quickly realized that most people won’t be going to a court to resolve disputes, but most people do appear before a tribunal of some kind at some point in their lives. Fairness in these tribunals is so important. Even in things that sound boring, it’s really important that decisions are made carefully and that fairness is awarded to all parties. That’s what I pursued as I built my legal career.
What are some common misconceptions about administrative justice?
That administrative tribunals aren’t fair, or that they are like a kangaroo court. The administrative tribunals that I have worked with have really worked hard at fairness, making sure that everyone gets a chance to participate fully and that they get a decision based on the evidence. In reality, I’ve found administrative justice workers to be quite passionate about fairness.
What’s been your favourite part so far?
I like working with all of the different people. You get staff who work for the tribunals, you work with the other tribunal members that come from a wide range of backgrounds, and you’re interacting with individuals affected by your decisions too, so members of the public. There’s a cross section of the community that I find very rewarding and humbling to see the diversity that’s present.
What do you do at FOAJ? What are some day-to-day tasks that you enjoy doing?
I’m new to the board of directors, so I’m still trying to figure out what my role is there! I’m excited about setting policy, overseeing operations, that sort of thing, but time will tell what my role develops into.
What are the values that drive you?
A lot of what I’ve already talked about. Mainly fairness and transparency. As a neutral adjudicator, I don’t need the parties to like me or like my decision, but I do care about whether they think I’m fair, and that’s the underlying driver for me.
Your top 3 favourite books/podcasts? What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love David Sedaris as an author! His latest book Calypso was brilliant. Terry Pratchett is also one of my favourites. I am a Game of Thrones nerd. For podcasts, I really like This American Life and anything by Jonathan Goldstein. I’m an avid outdoors person, so I mountain bike, hike, ski, and love to be in the mountains. And I spend a lot of time chasing after my kids!
What three words describe you best?
Personable, diligent, loyal.
Who was your role model growing up?
I really liked a female climber named Lynn Hill, who did the first free ascent of the Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite. I’m an avid outdoors person and used to be a rock climber. I’m really interested in sport, and since women aren’t represented well in professional athletics, for her to have this massive achievement was so inspiring. She’s an extraordinary human being and a very driven person.
What skill would you love to learn, in work or in general?
I want to learn to play the ukulele!
What’s your hidden talent?
Home design. I just love beautiful spaces and I love figuring it out, like a puzzle, how to make a space work.
It is a busy month for the FOAJ as we host our Annual General Meeting, CTAJ™ Graduation and the Human Rights and Charter Values for Tribunals course in Edmonton.
April 16th, 2019
Radisson Edmonton South – Palm Room
5:30pm – Welcome Reception & Dinner
6:30pm – Annual General Meeting
7:30pm – Certificate in Tribunal Administrative JusticeTM Graduation
8:00pm – Presentation
8:30pm – Networking
April 15 & 16, 2019
Instructors: Adrian Wright/Sheldon Toner
The Charter of Rights plays an important role in the work of most tribunals. Many may rely on the Human Rights Act in the course of making a decision.
We are excited to announce that the Human Rights and Charter Values for Tribunals course is coming to Edmonton in April! This two-day course covers the essential features of both the Charter of Rights and the Human Rights Act. It is relevant to tribunal members, advocates and staff.
The purpose of this advanced workshop:
Who should take this advanced workshop:
Download Our Full 2019 Course Calendar by Clicking Here.
For more information, please contact email@example.com or call 780-466-0501
Administrative law impacts us all in so many ways every day. It is important that the decision makers are well trained. We encourage you to consider our education, particularly if you are involved in administrative tribunal work, or if you want to prepare for potential appointment to an agency, board, or commission. Employers look favourably on applicants who have completed FOAJ courses and the Certificate in Tribunal Administrative Justice™.
We offer a variety of courses on a regular schedule throughout the year, and most qualify for the Certificate in Tribunal Administrative Justice TM. Regular education days are scheduled in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Yellowknife, Whitehorse and the Atlantic Provinces.
What courses does the Foundation offer?
Who should take our courses?
The Foundation of Administrative Justice provides essential educational courses for tribunals and the people who appear before them. This also includes appeal and discipline committees for professional organizations, unions, and other professional associations.
While tribunal associated people are the core course participants, the foundation also can provide effective education to those appearing before tribunals. Are you from the Real Estate Council, the Nurses Association or the College of Physiotherapists? Are you a case manager, investigator, or appeals facilitator? Discover what our workshops and training can offer for your professional development.
What will you learn?
“Participating in the FOAJ programs helped our organization deliver our services in a manner that is meeting stakeholders expectations. It is truly helping us achieve our Vision, Mission and Values.”
– Workers’ Safety & Compensation Commission NWT and Nunavut
“The course curriculum has improved decision making and communication for our staff that render decisions related to all matters under the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act of New Brunswick. FOAJ education has also brought clarity to our decisions appearing before an appeals tribunal, resulting in higher confirmed rates.”
“We have been able to create a standardized, transparent process for staff and stakeholders… [a]s a result, we’ve reduced our decisions from approximately 30 pages down to 10 or under. Through the implementation of much of our training, we’ve been able to reduce hearing to decision release time from a high of 272 days in 2012 to 45 days in 2018.”
-Saskatchewan Municipal Board
“Since taking the course I have written 3 arbitral decisions and I can say without any doubt that my written decisions are:
Thank you for choosing to take the time to teach this course amidst your busy practice! I know that I as well as readers of my decisions have already benefited from the knowledge transferred at the course.”
-Michelle M. Simpson, Simpson Law
To read more feedback on our courses, view testimonials here.
2018 marked the 20 year celebration for the Foundation of Administrative Justice (FOAJ)! What started in 1998 as four courses in the province of Alberta has exponentially grown to a Canada-wide organization that now offers more than 45 courses with over 5,000 individuals trained. As we begin 2019, we want to take a moment and reflect on the success of the past year and look ahead to the exciting future for the FOAJ.
It all began in 1998 when the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals organized a “Train the Trainer” for the Prairie Provinces (AB, SK, MB) so those provinces could begin offering their own administrative tribunal training.
By 2002, the society was incorporated and had an operational Board of Directors. As our rapid growth continued, new courses were created, an annual conference was established.
A significant milestone was reached in 2009. In 2009, the Certificate in Tribunal Administrative Justice (CTAJ™) was created. A first in Canada, this Certificate assists tribunals and participants to evaluate and support competencies in administrative justice roles. Since our first graduation ceremony in 2010, we have had over 600 individual graduates from the program!
In 2018, we celebrated 20 years and international expansion as five participants from Kenya attended two courses in New Brunswick in February and returned to complete their CTAJ™ in Edmonton in the fall.
It is truly exciting to see how far we have come!
Get Involved with the FOAJ in 2019!
Our 2019 Course Schedule Calendar is now available. You can access it by clicking here. Start 2019 off right and make sure to plan your courses for the new year and work toward your CTAJ™.
There are three streams to the CTAJ™. As a participant, you can select the stream that best matches your role or career path.
After you have selected the stream best suited to you, you can begin to plan to complete the program. You can also work on your CTAJTM program on your own time with our e-learning courses. These courses mirror the in class experience and are a great way to pursue professional development while still keeping up with your responsibilities at work. No travel time or expenses.
We look forward to another successful year for our organization. If you would like to learn more about how you can get involved in our courses, membership or other general questions, please contact us directly.
The Foundation of Administrative Justice provides essential educational courses for Canadian tribunals and the people who appear before them. These administrative tribunals have a tremendous influence on the day-to-day lives of Canadians, as they decide rights and entitlements related to licensing, status of people and things, and money and benefits owed. They are often known as the ABCs, or agencies, boards, and commissions of the federal and provincial governments.
Tribunals also reach into the private sector through appeal and discipline committees for professional organizations, sports groups, unions, and other associations. Perhaps your business has had to take out a liquor license; maybe you want to appeal a municipal development decision; you may have been involved in a labour dispute, or have had an issue with your doctor or teacher. Tribunals are involved, and often central, in all these cases. Our foundation can help you understand all aspects of these various tribunals.
Certificate and Course Offerings
The Foundation of Administrative Justice offers a Certificate program: Certificate in Tribunal Administrative Justice (CTAJ™). This Certificate assists tribunals and participants to evaluate and support competencies in administrative justice roles. The certificate is a comprehensive collection of our courses with an evaluation at the end of each course offering.
Our courses, including eLearning options, are offered on a regular basis throughout the year, to provide maximum flexibility for newly appointed members. These courses focus on interpreting laws, presenting and weighing evidence, holding effective hearings, and making and writing decisions. We provide the only comprehensive education for members, prospective members and staff of quasi-judicial boards and commissions across Canada, which includes northern and eastern provinces.
The training is designed and delivered by professionals who have been or are involved in administrative tribunals. Our course costs are favourable to course offerings from other organizations, because the Foundation operates on a non-profit basis.
We encourage you to consider our education, particularly if you are involved in administrative tribunal work, or if you want to prepare for potential appointment to an ABC. Employers look favourably on applicants who have completed FOAJ courses and the Certificate in Tribunal Administrative Justice™.
While the core of our students largely consist of individuals who are associated with tribunals, the Foundation provides effective education to those appearing before tribunals as well. We encourage you to become a member to receive a discount on course fees in addition to many other benefits.