Mediate BC Blog

Wayne's Inspiring Words: "We are an Alpha Community"

Posted by Walter.Brynjolfson

In his acceptance speech, Wayne spoke proudly of the mediator community in British Columbia. Read his inspiring words and watch the videoconference recording below.


Thanks, Lori. I am deeply honoured by this award. Apparently I’m the first recipient from the British Columbia prairies. I thank the Board for considering someone who lives so far beyond Hope.

If I were in Vancouver right now, I would make a point of connecting with as many of you as possible. I’m not able through this medium to fairly acknowledge those in your room who have made such a big difference in my efforts. Instead, this acknowledgement will make one point about Mediate BC.

An article that has greatly influenced me is Making Peace and Making Money. The author talks about Alpha mediators, who do really well, and Beta mediators, who are almost as good, but who struggle. In the 1980s and 90’s, it seemed that many mediators were striving for Alpha. Mediation was competition. At least one supporting organization went bankrupt.

It was through the Roster Society, and then Mediate BC that I was taught a different approach. When mediators work at building a mediation community, the goal changes to making that community Alpha. We all want mediation to thrive. One alpha mediator can help maybe a hundred or two hundred people. With an alpha mediator community, that number moves to thousands per year, and can move much higher.

Mediate BC and the Roster Society before it have been institutions that advanced Alpha communities. They focused on lifting all the ships. Simply by having representatives from so many areas on the board, such as judges, lawyers, social workers, accountants, indigenous leaders, and even Mennonites who wear bowties, they demonstrate that alpha can mean community. The organization has worked between government, courts, parties, and society for the development of mediation itself, rather than individual mediators.

I would say that my connection with this organization has been the biggest shaper of my last 15 years. I was trying to stay on at a university in Winnipeg, and they were unsure of funding for my potential position, when I received the phone call from Jerry McHale to go on the board. Delores said: “that settles it, we are going back home”. From then until now, the Roster and Mediate BC have encouraged me, and allowed me, into some of the most stimulating opportunities for applying ideas about conflict process, conflict systems, and conflict structure. Being in a distant rural area has allowed me far more freedom to explore these ideas, and I thank those in mediation, law, social work, and the courts here for their trust, and for joining and supporting our local mediation community.

These are the last words in our Standards of Conduct:

A mediator should demonstrate respect for differing points of view within the field, seek to learn from other mediators, and work together with other mediators to improve the practice of mediation and better serve people in conflict.

Our primary ethical document clearly states that we should work together with other mediators. Here is the practical consequence.

You came to this reception. You are visiting your mediator friends. You are probably having a drink with them, and discussing your careers.

This is all part of improving our Alpha Mediator Community, so therefore is of the highest ethical standard.

So raise that glass in thanks to Mediate BC and each other. We are an Alpha Community! And thank you.


Correction: In the video it was mentioned that Wayne served in the North East for more than 25 years. The number is actually closer to 40. 

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