Actions and Commitments

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

Nicola Valley Institute of Technology’s Bachelor of Social Work

May 23, 2024

The NVIT Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) emphasizes the knowledge and skills relevant to both Indigenous and mainstream individuals, families and communities. The school is committed to the principles of social justice, community healing and change. Learners will increase knowledge and skills based on an Indigenous perspective and contemporary social work practice. Elders are a valued part of our program. Through classroom experience and critical analysis, learners are encouraged to design an ethical social work framework valuing diversity, equality, respect and the dignity and worth of all persons.

The NVIT BSW degree program is the only Indigenous-centred BSW program in British Columbia. Graduates of the program will have greater knowledge, skills and abilities to practice social work with diverse populations.

The BSW program is fully accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education.

Bachelor of Social Work Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

In response to Indian Control of Indian Education (1972), NVIT was created by the five founding bands of the Nicola Valley in Merritt, British Columbia (BC). In 1995, NVIT became a public Post-Secondary Institution (PSI) and is currently the only Indigenous PSI in BC. NVIT has two campuses, one located in Merritt and the other in Burnaby, and provides community-based post-secondary opportunities. The vision of the five founding bands is reinforced through the emerging landscape to Indigenize education through the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the adoption of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP).

TRC’ Since 1983 – YouTube

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 (5)

SOCW-311 – Credits: 3.000


Students will explore and critically analyze socio-historical Canadian policies and legislation and the implications for Indigenous peoples today. Students will examine policy development with an emphasis on who the policy makers are and whom the policies serve. Students will analyze and critique how and if existing policies could be effective for Aboriginal people. This course explores the socio-historical, economic, ideological & institutional contexts for the development of decolonizing social policies in Canada. The policy-making process as well as the role of social policy in processes of inclusion, exclusion, marginalization, and oppression, will be discussed. This course utilizes a gendered, Indigenous, decolonizing lens. It explores strategies for reconciliation within the social work profession and Canadian society.

SOCW-320 – Credits: 3.000


This course is designed to introduce students to the knowledge of trauma informed theory and practice in social work. Students will explore Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal theories of trauma and attachment research within a human development context. Trauma will be examined from a holistic approach using the following four aspects: child, family, community and professional. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the consequences of childhood maltreatment among diverse populations (race, culture, class, gender, ability). Through assigned readings, lecture, class discussion, video and other exercises, students will explore a variety of approaches.

SOCW-404 – Credits: 3.000


This course focuses specifically on ethical considerations and decision making when working in Aboriginal communities. The course will examine codes of ethics in the profession, Aboriginal codes of ethics and mainstream theoretical aspects of ethical practices. As well, students are provided with the opportunity to engage in exploration of integrated, personal, ethical practices that are culturally based through validation and revitalization of Aboriginal codes of ethics.

SOCW-457 – Credits: 3.000


This course examines social workers’ roles and responsibilities in working with diverse Aboriginal peoples such as First Nations, Inuit, Métis, including on and off reserve peoples. The concept and process of decolonization is introduced and connected to contemporary stories, community social work program initiatives and practices of Aboriginal peoples. This course utilizes a gendered, Aboriginal social justice perspective. It explores strategies for reconciliation and building relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples as well as practices within the social work profession.

SOCW-486 – Credits: 3.000


This course will critically examine the most relevant Indigenous and mainstream assessments and approaches to working with Indigenous peoples. Students will develop an understanding of social work interventions that will help to address the prevalent socio-economic and political issues that Indigenous peoples experience within Canadian society. Students will critically analyze and assess Indigenous individual, family and community case studies and apply social work approaches that demonstrate culturally safe practices.

Additional Information

When we teach the other courses not specific to child welfare, we include the social determinants of health which factor in to every course we teach. We also have 4 full-time faculty. Three of these faculty are Indigenous, which Is significant in that we all have lived experiences. We are in the process of hiring another faculty member with an emphasis on hiring an Indigenous person. The following courses also address TRC #1. Our program has a Child Welfare Specialization. Students who complete the following courses are prepared to do their 420-hour practicum at an Indigenous Child Welfare Agency or with the Ministry of Child and Family Department.

SOCW 376 Child Welfare Practice

The course introduces anti-oppression, Aboriginal and feminist analysis of practices within the family and child welfare systems. The course will discuss current British Columbia and other systems of practice that include feminist and Aboriginal models of child and family practice. Family and child welfare is deeply entrenched in the legal system therefore an introductory critique of the legal system is analyzed. Discussions will connect the legal system and practice with diverse populations and the importance of personal and professional values and ethics within a climate of constant change. A major emphasis is placed on First Nations/Aboriginal child welfare because of the high rate of Aboriginal children in care. Students will demonstrate learning by using a variety of learning methods such as moot courts, interview role plays, conflict resolutions scenarios and presentations. Students will have the opportunity to apply social work ethics and values to the role of child protection and increase their awareness of those receiving services with an emphasis on cross-cultural practice perspectives.

SOCW 350 Social Work, Law and Social Policy

This course examines the social impact of law and policy on children, families and communities involved within various social services, particularly child welfare. Topics will include the Canadian Constitution, the Child, Family and Community Services Act (CFCSA), and court systems. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the rights of clients and the responsibility of social workers to uphold those rights. This course focuses on a critical examination of family and child welfare policy and legislation from an Aboriginal perspective. The conceptual framework will include an examination of ideological influences, as well as the importance of a gender, race and class analysis regarding family and child welfare issues and practice in Canada.

SOCW 420 Family Violence and Social Work Practice

This course focuses on understanding the nature of violence in adult intimate relationships. Theories of family violence, used by social workers, are examined to provide a framework for recognizing, assessing and intervening. This course emphasizes a social work practice approach that is community-based, culturally sensitive, feminist, and anti-oppressive. Family violence is understood in this course to mean violence in adult intimate relationships, including same-sex couples. Other topics include family violence in Aboriginal communities, children who have witnessed violence, and dating violence

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: See Mandatory course descriptions
4Potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing (practice)
 Yes: See Mandatory course descriptions
5All child welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers
 Yes: See Mandatory course descriptions
Compliance with CASWE/ACFTS Statement of Complicity and Commitment to ChangeAt 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
 Our Merritt campus is located on the unceded traditional territories of the Nle?kepmx and Syilx people.Our Vancouver campus is located on the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish. The three host nations of this region are Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam.Located on: Campus Tours – Nicola Valley Institute of Technology
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
All content has been submitted to the respective faculty for validation to ensure accuracy and currency as of the time of posting. The Nicola Valley Institute of Technology Bachelor of Social Work reviewed and approved the document.

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