Wayne Plenert receives 2019 Susanna Jani award for Excellence in Mediation

As someone who’s lived and served between Vancouver and North East BC for upwards of 40 years, Wayne Plenart is no stranger to air travel; but as luck would have it, he wasn’t able to fly down for his own award ceremony. Instead—thanks to the miracle of modern technology—his stand-in arrived: a teleconferencing computer sporting Wayne’s iconic apparel, a bow tie.

The announcement, made by Board Chair Lori Charvat (seen in the middle above) was declared at the Mediate BC annual reception. In a rousing speech, she showcased his suitability for this honourable distinction and explained how he met the 5 criteria for the award, which recognizes a person who: 

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1.  Made a significant contribution to the field of mediation BC,

2. Is ethically and socially responsible,

3. Is devoted to the public interest, mediators and mediation generally,

4. Is open and generous, and

5. Represents the mission, vision and values of Mediate BC.

According to one of the nomination letters by Jane Morley, Q.C. (a past Jani Award winner) and Jean Greatbatch, Wayne “has made an enormous contribution to the field of mediation in BC.” He is “a member of the mediator community of whom we should all be very proud.”

For four years, Wayne served as Board Member for the Mediator Roster Society of BC, and as president, helped it merge into Mediate BC, where he was Vice-Chair. “We both served on those Boards with him,” write Jane and Jean, “and observed his relentless and intelligent commitment to the public interest, mediators and mediation generally.” They go on to describe his “dogged work” ethic, and his capacity to innovate, reform, and improve.

Examples of his innovations include his early participation in the BC Family Justice innovation Lab and, most prominently, his self-initiated work in establishing the Northern Navigator (NN) project. Based in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, NN provided a creative model for court ordered mediation services in an underserved area of the province. 

“The project was able to happen because of Wayne’s generous and continued donations,” writes Kaitlin Sevier, the Navigator and one of Wayne’s mentees in NN. 

“He donated monetarily to help fund the program, he donated a significant amount of his time to train new mediators for the area.” According to Arden Smith, another mentee, “Wayne went on to spend endless hours co-mediating and mentoring to ensure mediators were well prepared.”

All of this work informed other related justice sector initiatives in the province. Jane Morley writes that Northern Navigator “has been a wealthy source of learning at the provincial level, both about directed mediation in particular and justice system change in general.”

As another long-time colleague of Wayne puts it: “It is hard to imagine anyone more ‘open and generous’ than Wayne Plenert. We have been blessed to have had the chance to work with him.”

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