Social Work students advocate for the Indigenization of social work practice through work with MWSAW
A trio of St. Thomas Social Work students are working with the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqiyik Association of Social Workers to advocate for the Indigenization of social work practice.
Bachelor of Social Work students Delilah Pelkey, of Woodstock, NB, Shelley Augustine, of Elsipogtog First Nation, and Andrea Greene, of Riverview, NB, were paired with the association for their Social Action Field Placement.
“We’ve been helping to organize the second annual Mi’kmaq Wolastoqiyik Association of Social Workers Conference and Mawiomi,” Pelkey said.
“The work has allowed us to find a way to properly advocate for Indigenous rights, and to actually be able to do that is very empowering. That’s the goal of the conference—to empower those working with Indigenous people.”
The Mi’kmaq Wolastoqiyik Association of Social Workers was developed by graduates of the university’s Mi’kmaq Maliseet Bachelor of Social Work program as a way to stay connected and share best practices. The annual conference brings together key players in the Indigenization of social work and is open to all non-First Nation people practicing social work within First Nation communities.
Their time working with the association has provided clarity on the meaning and impact of social action, as well practical applications of structural social work.
“As I went through this process and got involved, I realized social action is being part of something where you can make a difference. It’s taking a step toward changing things to work best for the group you’re serving,” Augustine said.
“Mainstream social work has given us a good foundation of how social work has been and what it is now, and this organization gave us a parallel perspective. It helped us a lot to have that bridge to gain an understanding of what needs to happen to address any changes that are needed for Indigenous practices in social work.”
The Mi’kmaq Wolastoqiyik Association of Social Workers Conference and Mawiomi takes place June 13-14 at the Fredericton Inn.
Green, Pelkey, and Augustine are looking forward to seeing their work come together at the event.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with Andrea and Shelley. It’s been nice getting to know them and working with established professionals in the field,” Pelkey said.
“We’ve gained a lot of knowledge,” Augustine added. “It’s one thing to have a social action placement but having this angle and seeing it unfold is another thing.”