Actions and Commitments

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

McGill University School of Social Work

May 23, 2024

The School of Social Work provides world-class social work education, generates leading research, and contributes to social justice initiatives locally, nationally and internationally.

Our emphasis is on critical thinking, clinical practice, community development, advocacy, policy, and research, in order to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people and to promote social justice.

1.2.1 Mission statement

McGill University’s School of Social Work prepares professionals to make contributions that make a difference in Montreal, across Canada, and around the world. Our emphasis is on  critical thinking, research, practice and policy, with a focus on social justice on issues facing  vulnerable and disadvantaged people. Our goal is the development of just and equitable  societies.

School of Social Work Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation is not explicitly addressed.

Equity, Diversity, Decolonization, and Indigenization Initiative (EDDII)

In the Fall of 2020, School Council adopted a five-year (2020-2024) EDDI strategic plan covering five domains: 

  • Pedagogy,
  • Student Engagement, 
  • Governance,
  • Research, and 
  • Community.

All committees, programs, and initiatives at the School are expected to engage in EDDI and to report back to the School Council. In addition, the School Director provides regular updates to Council on progress relative to the EDDI actions and indicators specified in the Strategic Plan.

The School of Social Work Council Bylaws (Revised Oct. 28, 2020) stated that the Equity, Diversity, Decolonization, and Indigenization Initiative (EDDII) is charged with: 

  • Rendering actionable the SSW Bylaws Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion statement (1.2.4);
  • Operationalizing the structure by which responsibility for engagement in equity, diversity, and inclusion principles in the policy and practice of its governance structure by all SSW members is ensured; 
  • Development of the School’s EDDII Strategic Plan; 
  • Facilitating and tracking implementation and revisions of the Strategic Plan;
  • Serve as a hub for the EDDII efforts to be infused through all other school committees and structures in accordance with article 1.2.4 of the SSW Bylaws;
  • Any substantive changes to the EDDII Strategic Plan must be ratified by the School Council, not the EDDII members/participants.

Indigenous Access McGill

Indigenous Access McGill (IAM) is a support program for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students in the School of Social Work. Since 2007, IAM has been supporting Indigenous students from recruitment through graduation.

Activities include:

  • Support for applicants during the admissions process and personalized orientation to their program at McGill
  • Mentoring and tutoring on all aspects of studies and dedicated study/meeting space within the School of Social Work
  • Connection to University-level resources (e.g., Indigenous resources, Writing Centre, Office for Students with Disabilities, Health Services, & more)
  • Professional development opportunities (conference participation, workshops)
  • Opportunities for Indigenous students to gather together from across the University (annual retreat, annual IAM student and alumni dinner, social events)

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.

Requiring that all child-welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers

Mandatory Course: Yes

SWRK 445 First Peoples and Social Work (3 credits)        

An analysis of Canadian policies and legislation, their impact on First Peoples and on social work practice. Historical and contextual overviews of European-Canadian and First Nations, Métis and Inuit relations.

SRWK 220 History & Philosophy of Social Work

Excerpt from course decription: We will examine ideas, constructs, and theories that shape basic assumptions around inequality, racism, diversity, and human rights and the role of social work in addressing these issues in Canada and internationally. This will equip you with critical knowledge and skills to assess how social work has helped (or not) to address issues affecting marginalized populations as well as explore areas for improvement.

In addition, McGill also offerts the following optional courses:

IDFS 500 Indigenous Field Studies

This course provides an opportunity for students from Social Work, Law, Medicine, Anthropology, the Indigenous Studies Minor and other disciplines to learn about Indigenous cultures and worldviews, with a particular emphasis on Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) teachings and their connection to the students’ areas of practice.

During this 4-week intensive course (including 1 week in the field in Kanesatake, Mohawk Territory, students are introduced to Indigenous customs, values and ways of life through daily activities/workshops led by an Elder from Kanesatake, other community members and guests, with support from McGill instructors. Attention will also be given to the intergenerational effects of colonization and Canadian policies within contemporary Indigenous society.

The objective of this course is to provide a holistic approach to learning about Indigenous cultures. The course contains physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual components, with the intent that the students will be immersed in cultural activities in Kanesatake. In the field, students will visit and participate in activities, workshops, ceremonies and hands-on learning led by community Elders and facilitators. During the field portion of the course, students will be camping in Parc national d’Oka. Students must be prepared for outdoor conditions and varying weather. On-campus sessions prior to the field portion will provide background information and context from each of the participating disciplines, while on-campus sessions afterwards provide a chance to debrief.

Faculty of Social Work Commitment to Call to Action 1 # 3, 4 and 5: 3 out of 3 = 100%

3History and impact of residential schools (theory)
 Yes. Mandatory course on impacts of Canadian policies and legislation (SWRK 445)
4Potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing (practice)
 Yes, but limited to the one mandatory course (SWRK 445)
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
 Located in “Mission Statement and Guiding Principles1.2.3 Indigenous Land Acknowledgment
McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather
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 EDDI above
All content has been submitted to the respective faculty for validation to ensure accuracy and currency as of the time of posting. The McGillUniversity School of Social Work reviewed and approved the document.

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