In this personal memoir of three years teaching at the First Nations University of Canada, the author reﬂects on what she learned, in applying internally and externally, an Aboriginal model of social work education. As a person of non-Aboriginal ancestry, she explores how her own struggle with the imbalances inherent in academia spurred her search in grounding her teaching in holism, healing, reciprocal relationships, empowerment, liberation, and pleasure, and how the integration of these practices strengthened her relationships with her own spirit, but also with ‘all my relations’.
McGill University School of Social Work initiated a research project in October 2005 to examine the social work education and ongoing professional needs of the First Nations communities of Kahnawake and Kanehsatake. These communities had previously been served by a 30-credit certiﬁcate program. Using qualitative methodology, the project sought to gather data which would eventually assist in the development of a curriculum and pedagogical approach that would reﬂect the social and cultural reality of these communities as part of the regular BSW program. This paper describes the process, key ﬁndings, and potential next steps for the School.
This article recounts the author’s personal and professional journey of developing a social policy social work course at the First Nations University of Canada. With no social policy text designed for and about Aboriginal peoples, and very few articles written on social policy issues in Aboriginal communities, the author was challenged to create content, pedagogy, and assignment structures that reﬂected the cultures of her students who come primarily from the plains and woodlands reserve communities of Saskatchewan. By consulting with Elders, colleagues, and students, as well as by paying attention to her own internal sense of stress or delight, she progressively modiﬁed the class over three years, releasing all that was‘dry and detached’ while building on all that was fun, relevant and exciting. Along the way, the author was introduced to the néhiyawéwin (Cree) word mamatowisowin, which refers to a state of spiritual attunement and divine inspiration. I realized that, perhaps more than head knowledge, it was mamatowisowin that she most needed in order to create a class that optimally served her students and the university’s vision of a ‘bicultural education’ that is equally grounded in both European and Indigenous knowledge systems.
The phenomenon of adolescent pregnancy and its relationship to child welfare in Aboriginal communities provides a useful lens through which to understand fundamental and structural problems with the current child welfare system in Canada. The following paper will examine the relationship between adolescent pregnancy and child welfare, investigate concerns with the current child welfare system, and look to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a framework for conceptualizing alternative approaches.
The Aboriginal Fathers Project set out to explore the roles of fathers in British Columbia’s Aboriginal families. The project aimed to investigate the ways community programs could support fathers’ involvement with their children, and increase their participation in family-centered programs. This article brieﬂy describes the project and outlines a few of the major ﬁndings from the research. This article discusses ﬁndings from the project which highlight the impact of colonialism and assimilation processes on the roles of Aboriginal fathers. The suggestion to develop father-speciﬁc support groups and the use of traditional practices and spirituality in the support groups is discussed.
Social workers and other health care providers have been asked to develop and implement innovative and culturally sensitive treatment initiatives in First Nation communities. However, because of traumatization and oppression, many First Nations people face troubling psycho-social issues which have resulted in a diminished capacity to trust. If this loss of trust is not dealt with skillfully, it can impede the ability of social workers to implement initiatives. Through a process of person-centred interviewing, 36 participants identiﬁed four levels of trust that have been diminished among many First Nations people. The impact of this phenomenon on the development and implementation of community based initiatives is discussed in this article.
The high numbers of Aboriginal children placed in provincial and territorial care demonstrates the need for effective interventions that directly address the legacy of trauma from colonialization. This paper argues that healing is a critical component of any intervention seeking to help Aboriginal Peoples and their children. Research on healing and recent government initiatives and legislation directed at preserving traditional Aboriginal healing practices are discussed. This article concludes with recommendations for various community members involved in the healing of Aboriginal Peoples.
This qualitative research study asked the question: how can traditional practices and healers complement existing practices in mental health? Three interviews were conducted with the intention to explore the experiences of people who have expertise in the areas of traditional healing and mental health. Interviews were held with an Elder, a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist. Analysis of the interviews highlighted the different perspectives of each worldview, which is thoroughly discussed in the literature. In addition common themes to practice were identiﬁed and this is an area that is not often highlighted in the literature. The interviews revealed each perspective is strongly grounded in a desire and intention to help people and is then built upon via training. To move forward it is essential to begin from commonalties in how each perspective works to help people, in addition to a solid understanding of the two perspectives and the causes for the current health and mental health of First Nations and Métis.
Widespread conductive hearing loss among Aboriginal peoples in ﬁrst world nations has a signiﬁcant, although largely invisible impact on intercultural communication. Poor acoustics and cultural differences in communication styles compound the effect of widespread hearing loss among Aboriginal peoples. This article considers Australian research that has investigated how conductive hearing loss can impact on intercultural communication in schools and in the criminal justice system, as well as communication processes within Aboriginal families. An understanding of these issues can facilitate the development of innovative interventions that can help address Aboriginal disadvantage, especially within mainstream institutions.
Over 1 million Canadians aged 45-64 provide care to seniors with disabilities or physical limitations, and 70% are also employed – many full-time. Yet often policy assumes that all communities face the same eldercare challenges despite regional and cultural distinctions. This paper highlights what little is known about Aboriginal informal eldercare providers. Trends in health, employment and migration continue to raise concerns about the availability of caregivers, particularly in isolated communities. Difficulties accessing services increases the burdens of caregivers both locally and at a distance. More information about the context of Aboriginal eldercare is sorely needed.