As I look forward to our CASWE-ACFTS 2019 conference in Vancouver, I also reflect back on the last few months. I had the enormous privilege of attending three fascinating events in the month of March. I attended the first two days of the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York City at the United Nations Headquarters. It began the day after a plane crash in Ethiopia and the session observed a moment of silence. There were many highlights but one of my favourites was the delegate from Denmark discussing only one issue that no one else was: women’s blood. She talked about the discrimination women the world over face because of the presence and absence of blood. She reminded everyone that education for young women is vital. The delegate from Denmark was speaking truth to power.
The second and third event took place on the same day. Kathy Hogarth, our Vice-President, and I were invited to the first Social Work event on Parliament Hill hosted by the Canadian Association of Social Work and three Senators who are also social workers. One of whom is also a former social work educator: Wanda Thomas Bernard. The reception was inspiring. It was great to see what social workers can achieve as we can and do work in so many spheres of practice. Since we were already on the Hill, we attended Question Period in Parliament. It was an exciting session because three new MPs were being presented. A moment of silence was also observed there for the victims of the Christchurch New Zealand Mosque shootings. It was also the first Question Period in the midst of a scandal with the ruling government. During this scandal, a phrase often used was that of speaking truth to power.
Silence and speaking truth to power are two compelling threads that weave these experiences together for me. I have been thinking about them in relation to social work and social work education. I use silence in my classroom a great deal and believe that it is an underused skill in direct practice. Speaking truth to power is very much linked to social justice which undergirds every social work program I know.
This is likely my last blog as President as my term finishes at our AGM in Vancouver. It has been an honour to serve in this capacity. The absence of this work will create a little more silence in my life; I resolve to become even better at speaking truth to power in my life generally.