Actions and Commitments

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

Nipissing University’s School of Social Work

May 29, 2024

The Bachelor of Social Work program at Nipissing University is committed to preparing students for generalist social work practice that is characterized by high ethical standards, critical thinking, creativity, research-mindedness and the promotion of human rights, inclusion and equality. The principles of anti-oppressive practice underpin our program’s particular emphasis on social work with diverse identities in northern, rural and remote contexts including Indigenous and Franco-Ontarian communities.

Through a blend of classical and innovative teaching approaches we are dedicated to establishing a positive climate for learning through supportive interaction, integrity, personal growth and creative expression. Our integration of classroom and experiential learning values the development of core competencies for relationship-based social work with individuals, families and groups and for structural approaches to effect positive social change to build communities where everyone thrives.​​​

Our Bachelor of Social Work program has earned first-accreditation status from the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE-ACFTS).

Bachelor of Social Work Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Beyond formal curricular offerings, Nipissing University’s School of Social Work begins every Departmental Group, Community Advisory Circle, and community events/presentations by acknowledging the lands on which Nipissing is located, giving thanks and appreciation to the traditional territories and the peoples that are indigenous to the lands. In addition, annual events that are facilitated by the School (i.e. Ontario Social Work Week and World Social Work Day) have Indigenous representation on discussion panels and round tables. Nipissing University’s School of Social Work’s program delivery is also guided by both a Community Advisory Circle (CAC) and persons with lived experience (called Experts by Experience, EBE). Both the CAC and EBE have Indigenous representation.

Mission Statement Program Goals and Learning Objectives

Program goal 2 states that graduates from Nipissing University’s Bachelor of Social Work program will “possess critically reflective capacities, research mindedness and a broad base of knowledge and skills grounded in systems theory and strengths-based approaches to work with diverse service user groups in northern, rural and remote contexts including Indigenous and Franco-Ontarian communities” 

Program Learning Objectives for graduates include their ability to:

conduct systemic analyses and critical evaluation of the multiple theoretical and conceptual bases of social work practice (such as feminist, structural, anti-oppression, and Indigenous theories) and their application in professional practice,” and “develop the ability to undertake generalist practice with a specialized understanding of working in rural and/or northern areas and Indigenous communities.”

Nipissing University’s commitment to Indigenization

Strategic Plan

 Pathways: Our Commitments to Water, Land, and People

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 (4)

SWRK 3406  Indigenous Perspectives and Social Work Practice

Students are introduced to the resiliency of Indigenous Peoples in Canada (with an emphasis on First Nation and Métis people) in the context of social welfare and social work practice. The effects of discourses enacted through policies, structures and practices upon Indigenous peoples is explored in relation to how these contribute to the continuing marginalization of minority groups. Students learn about the significance of Indigenous world views, values and identity as these relate to the provision of social work services. The constructs of “helper” and “ally” and Indigenous self-determination are explored.

SWRK 3506  Anti-Oppression Theorizing

Students explore the knowledge and theories relevant to generalist social work practice, with a particular focus on anti-oppression theorizing. Critical theoretical approaches to social work practice may include feminist, structural, and Indigenous theories of helping. Various sources of oppression are addressed, including those grounded in race, class, age, gender disability, and sexuality. Students’ ability to conceptualize how theory informs practice will be strengthened by using case examples from a variety of settings. A focus on rural and northern contexts is integrated throughout the course.

SWRK 4306  Indigenous Wellness

Students develop reflective process which emphasizes a holistic approach to well-being and healing. Drawing on Indigenous worldviews, students explore how wellness encompasses individuals, families, communities, and spiritual relationships. Students learn about the strengths of Indigenous worldviews in helping others and how they may be integrated into social work practice. The holistic approach will also inform an analysis of community services and infrastructure that are responsive to the needs of Indigenous Peoples.

SWRK 4316  Indigenous Child Welfare

Students critically examine the way in which the mainstream child welfare system continues to impact Indigenous children and families. Beginning from an historical perspective, students explore the structural issues that continue to affect Indigenous Peoples. Child welfare work in the contemporary context is investigated from an Indigenous context as a means of exploring alternative systems for meeting the needs of Indigenous children.

Beyond the four mandatory courses listed, every course offered by the School of Social Work (course code listings beginning with SWRK) commit at minimum one class where content is particularly focused on indigenous learning and perspectives. Also, courses offer students opportunities to learn from elders and knowledge keepers via guest speakers and by indigenous-specific exercises (e.g. an Indigenous beading assignment in SWRK 4306). 

Nipissing University’s Field Education component of the Bachelor of Social Work program had dedicated Indigenous-specific placement settings available to students and the Field Education Manager is an active member within North Bay’s Indigenous Friendship Centre. The School of Social Work’s Curriculum is informed by both the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers’ Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice (including Principle II sections 2.1.7 and 2.2.15) and the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (including core learning objectives 4, Colonialism and Social Work, and 5, Indigenous peoples and communities). 

Faculty research, currently including:

  • Indigenous methodologies investigating Indigenous ethic of non-interference in relationship building; 
  • Indigenous ways of knowing dementia are shared and discussed with students while also consulting with internal (Nipissing University’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives and Indigenous Council on Education) and external (Indigenous Friendship Centre) entities; 
  • Working with an Indigenous community on the topic of gender based violence and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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. 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 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
 Nipissing University sits on the territory of Nipissing First Nation, the territory of the Anishnabek, within lands protected by the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850.We are grateful to be able to live and learn on these lands with all our relations.Located on Faculty of Social Work – Home Page and Nipissing University – Home Page
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, although no information provided on timeline and objectives
All content has been submitted to the respective faculty for validation to ensure accuracy and currency as of the time of posting. The Nipissing University’s School of Social Work reviewed and approved the document.

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