Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 1: Child Welfare (1-5)

Dalhousie University School of Social Work

June 5, 2024

Dalhousie University School of Social Work’s faculty, students, and alumni share a common objective: to embrace a critical and anti-oppressive approach to social work practice that includes an emphasis on social policy, professional values, theoretical perspectives, and practice methods. 

The School of Social Work was founded in 1941 as an independent school serving the needs of the Maritime region for professionally educated social workers. The political, social, cultural and economic conditions of the region have continued to give direction to the school’s teaching programs since its amalgamation with Dalhousie University in 1969. The school is now one of eight schools and a college grouped within the university’s Faculty of Health Professions.

School of Social Work Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

School of Social Work Indigenous Statement

Mourning the Children

At the School of Social Work we share in the grief and join with the country in mourning the beloved children recently discovered buried in unmarked graves at the site of the Kamloops Residential School. 

We stand with Indigenous colleagues, students, and communities through this horrendous time. Our profession must continue to grapple with the complexities of our role in the harms of residential schools and contemporary child welfare practices with Indigenous peoples. As a School, we are committed to the work necessary to educate social workers to be able to work in relationship with Indigenous peoples and build a profession that is accountable to our historic and contemporary wrongdoing.  

We continue to take guidance from the advocacy of the First Nations Caring Society and their calls to concrete action that we can advance as citizens and as representatives of the profession (

Retention Policy for Indigenous Students

The Retention Policy for Indigenous Students although not focused on the TRC Calls to Action does highlight specific actions that support Reconciliation in areas such as:

  • Educational Processes
  • Curriculum
  • Institutional Structures
  • Relationships
  • Supports for Faculty and Staff
  • Community
  • Training/Professional Development
  • Governance

The School of Social Work (SSW) recognises that an inclusive Retention Policy for Indigenous students should involve an intentional focus on decolonization through critically dismantling Eurocentric perspectives, practices, and pedagogies. Similarly, actions taken to advance the Retention Policy should be consistent with Indigenous perspectives, apply the outlined accountability measures, with the guidance of the Diversity and Equity Committee and the Indigenous partners constituting the advisory or reviewing committee.

TRC Call to Action # 1

We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care by: 

  1. Monitoring and assessing neglect investigations
  2. Providing adequate resources to enable Aboriginal communities and child-welfare organizations to keep Aboriginal families together where it is safe to do so, and to keep children in culturally appropriate environments, regardless of where they reside.
  3. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the history and impacts of residential schools.
  4. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing.
  5. Requiring that all child-welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers.

Mandatory Course: Yes 

SLWK 2550   Indigenizing and Decolonizing Social Work Practice


Indigenous perspectives and practices for social work are introduced. Using an Indigenizing approach, students will analyze the historical and contemporary experiences of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the implications for social work practice. Students will examine their positionality and the need to critically reflect on and decolonize their practice. Indigenous peoples refers to First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples throughout Canada as well as the First peoples in other colonized nations.

Faculty of Social Work Commitment to Call to Action 1 iii, iv and v: 3 out of 3 = 100%

3History and impact of residential schools (theory)
 Yes. Mandatory course: SLWK 2550   Indigenizing and Decolonizing Social Work Practice
4Potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing (practice)
 Yes, but limited to one 3-hour course. See #3 aboveMandatory course makes connections between theory and social work practice.
5All child welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers
 Yes. See # 3 above

Compliance with CASWE/ACFTS Statement of Complicity and Commitment to Change

At the May 27th, 2017 Board meeting, the Board of Directors of CASWE-ACFTS committed to ensuring that social work education in Canada contributes to transforming Canada’s colonial reality and approved a “Statement of Complicity and Commitment to Change”. “This is an important step in engaging social work education in the reconciliation process and supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action” affirms CASWE-ACFTS President, Dr. Susan Cadel.
Of the 12 actions articulated in the “Statement of Complicity and Commitment to Change, the following two are directed at Schools of Social Work
7Will encourage institutional members to post a territorial acknowledgement on their School’s website and post a link to the CAUT guide to territorial acknowledgement on the CASWE-ACFTS website to assist Schools with this task
 The Dalhousie University Senate acknowledges that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People and pays respect to the Indigenous knowledges held by the Mi’kmaq People, and to the wisdom of their Elders past and present. The Mi’kmaq People signed Peace and Friendship Treaties with the Crown, and section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes and affirms Aboriginal and Treaty rights. We are all Treaty people.Indigenous Advisory Council – About – Dalhousie University
8Will encourage and support Canadian schools of social work in revising mission statements, governance processes, curriculum, and pedagogy in ways that both advance the TRC recommendations and the overall indigenization of social work education
 Yes. See School of Social Work Indigenous Statement.
All content has been submitted to the respective faculty for validation to ensure accuracy and currency as of the time of posting. The Dalhousie University School of Social Work DID NOT RESPOND to multiple Indigenous Watchdog inquiries.

Managing Editor: Douglas Sinclair: Publisher, Indigenous Watchdog
Lead Researcher, Julia Dubé