Actions and Commitments

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

University of British Columbia School of Social Work

May 23, 2024

Building upon a foundation of social justice and an ethic of care, the UBC School of Social Work is a community of learners actively engaged in the development of critical, transformative knowledge for social work practice.

Founded in 1929, we are the oldest social work education program in British Columbia and the third oldest in Canada. Today, we continue our long and distinguished record of leading professional education, research, and scholarship.

Based on a commitment to fundamental social work values and a vision of social justice, UBC’s School of Social Work prepares social work students for generalist and advanced professional practice. We promote the scholarly generation of critical transformative knowledge through research and study relevant to social work theories, practices, social development and social administration.

Our programs are fully accredited by the Canadian Association of Social Work Education with regular one-on-one contact between faculty and students and field education practicum placements that are suited to individual learning goals.

School of Social Work Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

The School of Social Work’s Statement of Accountability and Commitment

The School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia declares its commitment to progressive recognition of and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

We acknowledge that our building rests on the traditional, unceded, and ancestral territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking Musqueam peoples. We further acknowledge and respect that the Jack Bell School of Social Work building as well as the degrees, research, programs, and services we provide are on the traditional territory of Indigenous Peoples.

Schools of Social Work in Canada are aware of the depth of the deleterious impact that colonial actions, legislation, policy and institutions, including Residential Schools and child welfare systems, have on Indigenous Peoples, and we remain committed to critically and reflexively understanding Social Work and our School’s role in past injustices, and to working to move forward for a better future.

This includes, but is not limited to, building a strong capacity in students, staff, faculty and researchers so that they can assess, critique and resist policies and practices that are colonial, unjust and unfair.

The School of Social Work is committed to playing our role in addressing the Calls to Action that have been made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

We further acknowledge that the School teaches social workers who will work in many different areas of society and that we are in a position to uphold the spirit and intent of the TRC Calls to Action, particularly,

92iii. Provide education on the history of Aboriginal Peoples, including the history and legacy of Residential Schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal Crown relations. This will require knowledge and skills-based training in intercultural work, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism;

…. close the gaps in health (and wellbeing) outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

We are committed to developing and sharing program models, tools, and resources that will improve Indigenous Peoples’ access to the School of Social Work’s degrees, research, programs and services, and to building and enhancing Indigenous community research capacities.

We will work reciprocally with Indigenous communities to ensure that they have an active presence in our School, if that is what they desire, and we are committed to learning from Indigenous Knowledge and practices, and to incorporating them into the teachings and work of the School.

In terms of research, we endorse the principles of Ownership, Control, Access and Possession (OCAP) and respect the relationship of Indigenous Peoples to their cultural knowledge, data, and information. We further recognize the responsibility of researchers to participate in knowledge mobilization back to Indigenous communities and peoples, in a gentle, respectful and good way.

In addition, our commitment includes decolonizing direct social work practice to address the ongoing oppression of Indigenous Peoples in order to move forward in a good way, and improving the place social work has in Indigenous communities.

Our vision includes fostering a connection between social workers and Indigenous Peoples to offer time and space for Indigenous Peoples to show us how to support them in taking the lead in healing from the colonial effects of social work practice and to uplift and empower Indigenous Peoples to reclaim sovereignty.

The School of Social Work is committed to progressively moving beyond a Statement of Reconciliation to the development and implementation of an Action Plan which will be reviewed regularly in the spirit of social justice, equity, an ethic of care, inclusiveness, accountability, and collaboration.

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

SOWK 325 – Indigenous Peoples and Critical Social Work Analysis

Contemporary social issues facing Indigenous peoples and communities examined in the context of the history of Settler-Canadian/Indigenous relations; the impact of Settler-Canadian institutions upon Indigenous peoples; implications for social policy and social work practice. Enrolment is limited to students in the BSW program.

Social Work at UBC’s Vancouver campus | UBC Undergraduate Programs and Admissions

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 description
4Potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing (practice)
 Yes. See mandatory course description
5All child welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers
 Yes. See mandatory course description

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
 We acknowledge that the UBC Vancouver campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam).Located on School of Social Work – 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.  See Statement of Commitment and Accountability
All content has been submitted to the respective faculty for validation to ensure accuracy and currency as of the time of posting. The University of British Columbia School of Social Work reviewed and approved the document.

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