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On Sept. 6, 1966, the Faculty of Social Work (FSW) first opened its doors at Wilfrid Laurier University in space provided by the Seminary. There were 28 students enrolled that year. The dean was Sheldon L. Rahn. As we begin our 50th year in the fall, there will be just over 600 full-time and part-time BSW, MSW and PhD students at Wilfrid Laurier.

This Sept. we invite our alumni to return to Laurier to celebrate 50 years of social work research and education.

Canada's Failure: Not Doing Better When It Knows Better for First Nations Children (Lecture)

This presentation shows a long pattern of the federal government knowing what to do to help First Nations children and repeatedly failing to take the measures necessary to fix the problem. The lecture culminates in a discussion of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s legal ruling in 2016 that Canada is racially discriminating against 163,000 First Nations children by providing inequitable child welfare services and failing to implement Jordan’s Principle. This systemic discrimination against First Nations children is deeply embedded and normalized in Canada and in other countries around the world. Strategies for redress, including the participation of children, are discussed.


Cindy Blackstock
Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; Associate Professor, University of Alberta

A member of the Gitksan First Nation, Cindy has 25 years of social work experience in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights. Her promotion of culturally based and evidence informed solutions has been recognized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Frontline Defenders and many others. An author of over 50 publications and a widely sought after public speaker, Cindy has collaborated with other Indigenous leaders to assist the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in the development and adoption of a General Comment on the Rights of Indigenous children. She also recently worked with Indigenous young people, UNICEF and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to produce a youth friendly version of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Cindy is currently completing a Master of Jurisprudence in Children’s Law and Policy at the Loyola University Chicago.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016
  • Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Location: Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) | 67 Erb Street West in Waterloo.
  • Cost: This is a free event but registration is required as space is limited.

The Influence of Social Work Research on Social Work Practice (Symposium)

Since its inception in 1966, the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier has been home to numerous researchers whose insightful, innovative and leading edge work has had significant impacts on social work policy and practice. In celebration of our 50 year anniversary, we invite you to attend our symposium, The Influence of Social Work Research on Social Work Practice. Eight faculty members will be presenting a current research project and discussing its influence on policy and practice. A barbecue lunch will follow, giving you an opportunity to speak with the faculty and reconnect with former classmates.

Event Details

  • Date: Friday, Sept. 23, 2016
  • Time: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Location: Faculty of Social Work | 120 Duke Street West, Kitchener
  • Cost: This is a free event but registration is required as space is limited.

Symposium Schedule and Registration

During registration, you will be required to select which talks you will be attending at the symposium.

9:30 a.m. to 10:10 a.m.

  • Ginette Lafrenière, Research Incubators as Transformative Social Work Spaces: Case Study of the Social Innovation Research Group and the Manulife Centre for Community Health Research: In this interactive and visually stimulating workshop, Lafrenière and her team will present case studies on research conducted in tandem with breastfeeding mothers, sex trade workers, survivors of war, torture and gendered violence as well as work with members of First Nations Métis and Inuit stakeholders which have contributed to purposeful ways in which social workers have been encouraged to reframe their current practices with vulnerable/resilient populations.
  • Kathy Absolon-King, Transformative Journeys in Indigenous Research, Practice, Teaching and Learning: The Aboriginal field of study’s approach to teaching, learning, practice and research is rooted in Indigenous knowledge and sets it apart from euro-western approaches. In this presentation, Kathy will speak about the role and place of the Aboriginal field of study as a flagship program at Laurier and in social work education in Canada.

10:20 a.m. to 11 a.m.

  • Cheryl-Anne Cait and Carol Stalker, Advancing the Evidence for Single Session Walk-In Counselling: Long wait lists for mental health services are common in many jurisdictions. Community-based mental health and family counseling agencies have increasingly turned to single session walk-in counselling to reduce wait times and improve accessibility. The walk-in counselling model has challenged long held conventions about how organizations provide service. This presentation will report findings from a mixed method study designed to compare change in psychological distress by clients receiving services from two models of service delivery, a walk-in counselling model and a traditional counselling model involving a wait list. The collection of quantitative data and analysis constituted the first phase of the research, with qualitative data collection and analysis following.
  • Tim Leduc, A Canadian Climate of Mind: Views on Social Work Futures: In his book, A Canadian Climate of Mind (McGill-Queen’s University Press 2016), he braids Indigenous and non-Indigenous stories that emerge from the waters, lands and climate of particular places in Canada, and which have the potential to renew a compassionate energy for reconciling human relations with each other and with our world. This presentation will consider what a few of these stories suggest about some potential future directions for wholistic social work practice in times of increasing climatic and energetic turbulence.

11:15 a.m. to 11:55 a.m.

  • Shoshana Pollack, Walls to Bridges CollectiveWalls to Bridges (W2B) brings incarcerated students and campus-enrolled students together as classmates in semester-long college or university courses. Class are held in correctional facilities and are taught using a circle pedagogy and collaborative dialogue aimed to foster egalitarian and collective learning. Shoshana Pollack and W2B student alumni will talk about her experiences developing the program in Canada and her research showing the impact the program has on Walls to Bridges students.
  • Eliana Suarez, Disputed Knowledge on Surviving Trauma in the Aftermath of Violence: Insights from the Global South.

12:05 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.

  • Michael Woodford, Mental Health Among LGBTQ Youth: Understanding Risk and Protective Factors: Drawing on several studies conducted with LGBTQ university students, this presentation will discuss the nature of contemporary LGBTQ discrimination and how various forms of discrimination can contribute to poor mental health outcomes. Socio-ecological factors that can foster resilience will be explored. Implications for social work practice will be highlighted.
  • Bree Akeeson, The Experiences of Syrian Refugee Families Living in Lebanon: A Social Work Perspective: As war in Syria continues to rage, a large number of Syrian families have sought refuge in neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Syrian families' displacement to these countries – whose social systems continue to strain under the weight of the refugee influx – has a destabilizing effect on families, with their protective social systems (such as family and community) compromised. This talk will present the experiences of Syrian refugee families living in Lebanon, highlighting their struggles and strengths as they seek to secure a life free from war and violence.

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