The Faculty of Social Sciences’ School of Social Work (SSW) passed a resolution ensuring Indigenous traditional knowledges are integrated into its programs, curricula and teaching approach to ensure they are equally valued as Western ones within the school. This initiative acts as a first step toward decolonizing its programs and operations, including research, teaching, training and social work intervention.
Recognizing that Indigenous contributions to training and research within Social Work in Canada have been rejected, ignored and negated, the SSW’s Kinistòtàdimin Advisory Circle developed an initial 10-step Action Plan that integrates and supports traditional Indigenous knowledges and practices. This move complements the university’s Indigenous Action Plan, which aims for “Indigenization by learning from and working with the integration of Indigenous worldviews.”
“There is no doubt this resolution sends an unequivocal message to Indigenous and traditional students that our knowledge and perspectives will be integrated into the School of Social Work.”
— A Anishinaabeg community member and Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences.
“There is no doubt this resolution sends an unequivocal message to Indigenous and traditional students that our knowledge and perspectives will be integrated into the School of Social Work,” says Cyndy Wylde, a Anishinaabeg community member and Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences, who will mark the launch of the SSW’s maiden Indigenous summer school by teaching a course on practices with Indigenous populations in social work.
“Understanding and recognizing Indigenous knowledge and world views is the key to student success in post-secondary education. This resolution should contribute to increasing the number of Indigenous students interested in the field of social work and will be a benefit to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and the teaching faculty.”
Some of the initiatives being implemented by the SSW, include:
- Involving Indigenous elders in teaching courses and workshops
- Ensuring all relevant subject material and courses reflect Indigenous knowledges
- Increasing student field placements within Indigenous organizations
- Involvement of Anishinabe Algonquin and other Indigenous peoples to ensure Indigenous approach to all facets of the SSW
“Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students will benefit from more valuable training thanks to the addition of diverse teaching practices and knowledges that have been produced, preserved and shared by Knowledge keepers,” says Sébastien Savard, Director of the School of Social Work, “which will enrich their understanding of the complex world around them.”
The Kinistòtàdimin Advisory Circle – guided by former Kitigan Zibi Chief, Educator and Activist Gilbert W Whiteduck – is a group comprised of First Nation and non-Indigenous members.
The resolution was unanimously adopted by the School of Social Work Assembly on March 15th.