April 28, 2021 – In February 2021, the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA) announced its decision to not take part in the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences’ (FHSS) Congress 2021. In a written statement, the BCSA underscored many poignant and relevant reasons for the decision, which the CASWE-ACFTS Board of Directors (BOD) greatly respects and supports. Following the incident of racial profiling during Congress 2019, the BCSA made two specific requests to the FHSS: 1) to waive the Congress fees for BCSA student and community members, and 2) the formal commitment to a theme related to Black Studies for a Congress in near future. These requests were initially denied, leading the BCSA to withdraw its participation from the Congress 2021 event. The CASWE-ACFTS acknowledges the leadership of the BCSA in calling for greater accountability of the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The BCSA statement also underscored the need for organizations, such as our very own, to think critically about their engagement with work and activities that centre the voices of BIPOC individuals and communities. We recognize that the work of CASWE-ACFTS in this area is ongoing, and we need to continue to create opportunities for our membership to meaningfully engage in conversations on how to decolonize social work education and practices, and how to address systemic racism. We are hoping our conference on the theme, Decolonial Dreaming in Social Work Practice: Reimagining for Today and the Seven Generations to Come, will provide one of these opportunities. (Specifically, this year’s call for abstracts included the theme, Critical Dialogues and Interventions to Address Systemic Racism.) For this reason, we have chosen to keep this year’s conference within the framework of Congress as we believe the platform chosen will provide the best option available for us to engage in these meaningful exchanges with our membership while providing the essential technical support that is needed to hold a virtual gathering of this magnitude.
We have more than 130 scheduled panels, dialogue circles, paper presentations, short films and podcasts that will explore the conference theme and encourage dialogue on how we can decolonize social work practice, address systemic racism, centre Northern relations, decolonize equity in social work education and reflect critically on field education. We are greatly looking forward to taking part in these sessions.
While this has been a tumultuous year for many reasons, we want to stress our continued commitment to working together with each other, our membership and the volunteers from our many committees, caucuses and our Commitment to Change Working Group to prioritize the work that needs to be done. As such, we hope you, our members, will also take part in our upcoming Member Dialogue Session, which will be facilitated by Dr. Kathy Absolon, on May 11th (1 to 4pm ET). We look forward to meeting with you soon.
The CASWE-ACFTS Board of Directors