The Board of Directors of CASWE-ACFTS has committed to ensuring that social work education in Canada contributes to transforming Canada’s colonial reality*
Ottawa. June 26th, 2017. 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 Cadell “as the statement acknowledges the negative effects of past and present practices, expresses regret for harm experienced by Indigenous peoples and communities, and commits to making positive change” she further explained. Dr. Cadell notes that the Board has tasked a working group “to help shift ways of thinking, to identify activities and make recommendations regarding ways of working with the Statement in order to begin the reconciliation process”. President Cadell also emphasized that there was broad membership support for the Statement as members responded with a standing ovation. During the Association’s Annual General Meeting held on May 31st, the student committee formally endorsed the Statement.
Details on the Board of Directors’ commitment follows.
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 herby annouces the Statement of Complicity and a Commitment to Change and,
- acknowledge that colonizing narratives, policies, and practices have been, and continue to be, embedded in social work education, research, and practice
- express deep regret for the harms experienced by Indigenous peoples and communities because of these of colonizing narratives, policies, and practices
- 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
- accept the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework to guide reconciliation efforts
- 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
- will ensure a territorial acknowledgement is posted on the CASWE-ACFTS web site
- 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
- 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
- will post, on the Association website, a list of resources to assist Schools in the above efforts
- will periodically review the vision, mission, principles and activities of our Association to ensure we are advancing reconciliation
- will seek to advance Article 14 (1) of UNDRIP through Memorandums of Understanding with relevant Indigenous institutions and programs
- 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.
 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 27th, 2017.
For further information please contact:
Dr. Susan Cadell (firstname.lastname@example.org)