Our Commitment to Change

In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action, the Association’s Board of Directors (BOD) has approved the “Statement of Complicity and Commitment to Change” (below) to ensure social work education in Canada contributes to transforming Canada’s colonial reality. During the Association’s Annual General Meeting held on May 31, 2017 Association membership responded to the adoption of the statement with a standing ovation.

The BOD has also created the Commitment to Change Working Group to help the various constituency groups within the Association shift their ways of thinking and make recommendations regarding ways of working with the Statement in order to begin the reconciliation process.

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Commitment to Change Working Group

The Commitment to Change Working Group advises and facilitates the Association in identifying and implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the CASWE-ACFTS Statement of Complicity and Commitment to Change. The working group also provides relevant resources to assist CASWE-ACFTS, its constituency groups, and its members in working together towards reconciliation by acknowledging, learning about, and transforming our colonial reality. For more information on the Commitment to Change Working Group, please contact Dani Sherwood.

Commitment to Change Working Group – Terms of Reference


Elizabeth Carlson-Manathara (Co-chair)
Laurentian University


Juliana West (Co-chair)
Thompson-Rivers University


Dianne Balraj


Chris Hiller
University of Waterloo


Jessica Breau
University of Moncton


Jesse Rankin-Osborne
University of Ottawa


Rebecca French
Wilfrid Laurier University


Jaqueline Colting-Stol
McGill University

Statement of Complicity and Commitment to Change

The Call to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015) offers the most recent account of the colonial reality embedded within the land now known as Canada. The mechanisms that have given rise to, and continue to support, this colonial reality are far reaching, all encompassing, and complex. Colonizing thoughts and actions are evident in the hearts and minds of individuals, in our personal and community relationships, and in societal structures and institutions. This reality impoverishes the character of our country and of all of us who live within its boundaries.

CASWE-ACFTS has been responsible for reviewing and accrediting university based programs of social work education within Canada since 1973 and graduates of these accredited programs become professional social work practitioners. Therefore CASWE-ACFTS shares responsibility for the scope and nature of social work practice within Canada, be that past, present or future practice. Unfortunately, social work education, research and practice have been, and continue to be, complicit in our colonial reality. Such complicity contradicts the espoused values and ethics of social work, potentially negates the positive impact of social work interventions, and results in harmful policies and practices.

Transforming our colonial reality must be a responsibility shared by all Canadians. As beginning steps in embracing this shared responsibility, the members of the Board of Directors, of the Canadian Association for Social Work Education- Association canadienne pour la formation en travail social hereby annouces the Statement of Complicity and a Commitment to Change and,

  1. acknowledge that colonizing narratives, policies, and practices have been, and continue to be, embedded in social work education, research, and practice
  2. express deep regret for the harms experienced by Indigenous[1] peoples and communities because of these colonizing narratives, policies, and practices
  3. commit, within our individual spheres of influence, to act in ways that lessen and eventually end such harms, thereby opening spaces to offer genuine apologies
  4. accept the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework to guide reconciliation efforts
  5. reaffirm the importance of our collaborative relationship with Thunderbird Circle and develop initiatives to commemorate the strength, resiliency, and contribution of all Indigenous social work educators and students
  6. will ensure a territorial acknowledgement is posted on the CASWE-ACFTS web site
  7. will 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
  8. will 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
  9. will post, on the Association website, a list of resources to assist Schools in the above efforts
  10. will periodically review the vision, mission, principles and activities of our Association to ensure we are advancing reconciliation
  11. will seek to advance Article 14 (1) of UNDRIP through Memorandums of Understanding with relevant Indigenous institutions and programs
  12. will ensure the planned revision of our educational policies and standards (EPAS2019)
  • incorporates current and comprehensive knowledge regarding the de-colonialization and indigenization of social work education including, but not necessarily limited to, the Calls to Action from the TRC, especially those related to child welfare, education, and health
  • recognizes the distinct nature of Indigenous social work and avoids positioning such social work within the context of multi-cultural or cross cultural theory and practice.

[1] This Statement uses the term “Indigenous” to include the distinct Canadian terms Aboriginal, First Nations, Indian, Métis, and Inuit as well as the more global context of First Peoples’ epistemologies, ways of knowing, knowledge systems, and lived experience. Indigenous is both an international and local term, reflecting the reality that issues such as the impact of colonization have both global and local implications.” (Association of Canadian Deans of Education, 2010, p. 1).

Approved by the Board of directors May 27, 2017.

For further information please contact:
Carole Carpot
Executive Director, CASWE-ACFTS


NIAB and CASWE-ACFTS sign agreement that mutually honours social work degrees

In October 2019, representatives from CASWE-ACFTS and the National Indigenous Accreditation Board (NIAB) signed an agreement that considers each group’s accredited social work degrees as substantially equivalent. This agreement underlines the strengths of both parties’ accredited social work programs.

“Through this agreement we are embodying our shared responsibility to expand the education landscape to include the use of Indigenous knowledges in the advancement of relational practices, which contribute to healthy communities and harmonious relationships,” explains Betty Bastien, President of NIAB. “As we move forward on this collaborative journey, which will be marked by mutual blessings, we will contribute to the reclamation of Indigenous languages, natural laws, and ways of being.”

“This is part of CASWE-ACFTS’ commitment to engage in the process of reconciliation and honour social work education programs that are developed by Indigenous Peoples, accredited by Indigenous bodies, and delivered by Indigenous institutions,” says Stéphane Grenier, President of CASWE-ACFTS. “It’s especially important because both parties are committed to ongoing dialogue and engaging in collaborative relations, including the mutual exchange of knowledge.”

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