Actions and Commitments

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

University of Calgary School of Social Work

May 23, 2024

Social Work is the world’s fastest growing profession. If you’re looking for a fulfilling career, this may be the faculty for you. We offer a range of programs, including distance and in-class learning from our campuses across Alberta. We’re the largest social work school in Canada, consistently ranked among the top 15 research social work schools in North America.

About the Faculty | Faculty of Social Work | University of Calgary (

School of Social Work Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

Equity, Racial Justice, Decolonization, and Inclusive Excellence

First Steps to Reconciliation

In the spring of 2021, the remains of 215 children were discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Weeks later, 751 unmarked graves were discovered at the former site of the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. Residential school survivors and their families have long known and demanded accountability for those who never came home. The discovery of so many children’s remains seemed to have finally created a moment that awakened many Canadians to the horrors and generational legacy of Canada’s residential school system.

The Faculty of Social Work was already working to follow a path to Truth and Reconciliation as part of the University of Calgary’s ii’ taa’poh’to’p, Indigenous strategy. However, given social work’s legacy and role in the structures of colonization, the faculty knew that something more was needed.

To that end, the Dean, along with the leadership of the Faculty’s Wellness Elder, Kerrie Moore (Métis/Cree) created the Indigenous Social Work Circle and Lodge (named Kiipitakyoyis – which means Grandmother’s Lodge in the Blackfoot language) in the spring of 2022. The Lodge is already providing learning opportunities for the community, faculty, staff, and students about Canada’s colonial legacy, Indigenous histories, cultures, current realities, languages, knowledges, and teachings. In the coming year, the faculty and Lodge will work with Elders and the community to create a faculty-specific Indigenous strategy.

“That the Faculty of Social Work created the Grandmothers’ Lodge shows a genuine desire to evolve from social work’s role in colonization, strengthen its relations with Indigenous peoples and advance truth and reconciliation,” says Dr. Terry Poucette, Lodge Director and member of the Stoney-Nakoda First Nations. “As a valued resource, Kiipitakyoyis is pleased to support the Faculty of Social Work’s commitment to actualize decolonization, truth and reconciliation, honour Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing and connecting, and develop an Indigenous Strategy to guide the faculty’s implementation of ii’taa’poh’to’p.”     

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

To advance its commitment to decolonization, truth and reconciliation, the FSW has developed a new mandatory BSW course that gives students the opportunity to learn more about Canada’s colonial legacy, Indigenous histories, cultures and healing practices and to be better prepared to effectively work with Indigenous peoples in their social work practice.

SOWK 428 Indigenous Peoples’ Histories, Cultures, and Healing Practices

From an Indigenous worldview, learners gain an appreciation of the diverse Indigenous healing practices that are rooted in natural laws, languages, and spirit. Learners are invited to engage in learning that honours the resistance and resilience of Indigenous peoples in the face of colonial violence, genocide, and complex intergenerational traumas.

Topics explored: Indigenous healing practices and complex intergenerational trauma

BSW Curriculum Plan – BSW Blended, Alberta SW Diploma (PD) Route | Faculty of Social Work | University of Calgary (

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. SOWK 428 includes 21 hours of class time dedicated to Indigenous histories and Canada’s colonial legacy.
4Potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing (practice)
 Yes. See mandatory course description. SOWK 428 has 4 classes dedicated to Indigenous healing practices that will include inviting Elders and Knowledge Keepers to share their knowledge on the subject with students.
5All child welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers
 Yes. See mandatory course description. Through SOWK 428, the upcoming master’s certificate in Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Leadership, and the Faculty’s Indigenous Strategy, all social work students will learn to be cognizant of unconscious bias towards Indigenous peoples, provided with knowledge of Canada’s colonial history, hear directly from former Indian residential school students, and learn about the impact of residential schools on Indigenous family systems and traditional parenting.   

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 University of Calgary, located in the heart of Southern Alberta, both acknowledges and pays tribute to the traditional territories of the peoples of Treaty 7, which include the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprised of the Siksika, the Piikani, and the Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Goodstoney First Nations). The City of Calgary is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta Districts 5 & 6.The University of Calgary is situated on land Northwest of where the Bow River meets the Elbow River, a site traditionally known as Moh’kins’tsis to the Blackfoot, Wîchîspa to the Stoney Nakoda, and Guts’ists’i to the Tsuut’ina. On this land and in this place we strive to learn together, walk together, and grow together “in a good way.”About | Faculty of Social Work | University of Calgary (
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 ii’ taa’poh’to’p Indigenous Strategy. FSW’s Indigenous commitments in the FSW Strategic Plan 2022-2027, development of SOWK 428 and the master’s certificate, requiring minimum of 3 hours of Indigenous content in SW courses and instructors inviting Elders and Knowledge Keepers to their classes, the FSW pending Indigenous Strategy will include land-based learning and learning from Elders & Knowledge Keepers (pedagogy), development of Kiipitakyoyis as an example of Indigenization. The FSW Indigenous Strategy will include an assessment of TRC calls to action it should pursue, including call to action #1.
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 Calgary School of Social Work reviewed and approved the document.

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