Description of Content and Definition of Aboriginal Field of Study Program
This field will be available only to applicants with a BSW; for this reason it is termed an Advanced Standing Program. Students in the new field will develop an understanding of the Aboriginal Wholistic Healing approach and the application of this knowledge within diverse and generalist practice contexts. This includes practices with individuals and groups, as well as in contexts where community work is undertaken and in policy and research arenas. This sequence of courses will enable students to develop an understanding of the interrelated and intergenerational impacts of Canadian policies with respect to Aboriginal peoples and the effects of colonization. Colonization has impacts on individuals, families, communities, on policies regarding Aboriginal peoples, on their culture and identity, on their capacity to engage in the Canadian free-market economy, and on their capacity to live within their cultural traditions within Canadian society.
Each element of practice and intervention with Aboriginal populations is influenced by this history and value system. Engaging the consequences of this dynamic and creating a more empowering type of reality for Aboriginal peoples requires social workers to fully comprehend this body of knowledge. Courses have been sequenced to guide students in developing a critical analysis of Aboriginal experiences and to develop practice skills that will help undo some of this legacy.
The program will commence with a Cultural Camp where they will be fully immersed in Aboriginal wholistic healing practices. The Cultural Camp will be followed by courses that outline the history of colonial policies and the history of the importance of the community to Aboriginal populations, enabling students to further immerse themselves in knowledge of Aboriginal worldviews and experiences. Courses will encourage students to examine their own wholistic nature and how this impacts on their own inherent capacity to engage other people’s lives while facilitating a healing journey. The practicum will be a key component in practicing what it takes to facilitate a healing journey.
The Circle process, which will be the primary pedagogical tool, will achieve several goals in addition to the transmission of knowledge. The Circle is a ceremony and an approach to decision-making, to consensus building, to healing and sharing of life. As students experience the Circle day-after-day they will be learning a worldview, a healing approach, a relationship building process, and an embodiment of the most powerful traditional Aboriginal teachings, which is “we are all one with all of the elements of Creation”.
Students in the three-term full-time study program take their courses within the Aboriginal program course offerings. One of these courses, SK507 (Diversity, Marginalization and Oppression), will be the same as in the mainstream program.
The AFS Part-time program requirements are identical to the full-time advanced standing option; however students complete the program over six terms (two years).