Celebrating Indigenous Social Workers

This post was written by Veronica Marlowe, practicum student at the Women’s Centre

My name is Veronica, I am a mother of three, I am Dënesųłiné and I am from the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nations, which is located in the east arm of the Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. I am in my second year of the Mount Royal University Social Work program, and am currently completing my social work practicum at the Women’s Centre.

The month of March is National Social Work Month, a month dedicated to acknowledging the social work profession. Social work is more than just a career of helping people – it is also one that has many challenges and rewards. I see social work as a gift aimed at helping people navigate through life’s challenges and rewards.

Social workers fill diverse roles in our society, but are brought together by a shared mission. In the words of the Canadian Association of Social Workers, “social workers are expected to be sensitive to the value of cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice.”

As an Indigenous social work student, my wish is to live in a society where we have less children in care and more programs dedicated to empowering families. The history and relationship between Indigenous people and Canada has not been a positive one – the statistics demonstrate this truth. For example, Indigenous children account for 7% of all children in Canada, but make up almost one half (48%) of all children in foster care. The reality is that families are being separated and children are being taken away from their families, community and culture. As an Indigenous social work student, learning about the statistics of Indigenous people within institutional systems, I have come to realize the importance of advocating for more Indigenous social workers within these institutional systems.

Why did I choose to become a social worker? I recognized the need for more Indigenous social workers and I believe in empowering all people. I chose this profession because I am a person who believes in the equality of all people. I also believe in creating safe spaces for women to advocate for themselves.

Advocating for people is something that takes courage in speaking truth; we encourage people to advocate and have a voice. I chose this field because there is a need for Indigenous social workers to speak up and advocate for Indigenous people – especially the children in the child welfare system.

According to the, Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) Code of Ethics:

  • Social workers have an obligation to provide resources, support and opportunities for the benefit of all people.
  • Social workers advocate for equal treatment and protection under the law and challenge injustices, especially injustices that affect the vulnerable and disadvantage.
  • Social workers uphold the right of people to have access to resources to meet basic human needs.
  • Social workers promote social development and environmental management in the interests of all people.

As a social work practicum student, I have had the pleasure of observing the work of the women at the Women’s Centre. You can see it in the faces of the women who come into the Centre, you can hear it in the laughter of the women, and also see it in the relationships of them women who come into the Centre.

The work being carried out coincides with the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) Code of Ethics Values listed above. The Women’s Centre’s mission statement, “To be every woman’s place for support, connections and community.” Is a reflection of the resources, services, and opportunities of the women being supported within a safe space.

This National Social Work month, I invite the Women’s Centre community to take the time to learn more about the significance of social workers in our society, especially Indigenous social workers!

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