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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 26, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Course Descriptions

The following course descriptions will outline the course of study in the MSW Aboriginal program of study.  A note regarding the use of the words Aboriginal and Indigenous in these course descriptions. The term Aboriginal has a specific meaning in Canada, in that it is a term used to recognize the three major Aboriginal groups; Status Indians, Metis, and Inuit. This term and meaning is entrenched in the Canadian Constitution and therefore in these course descriptions Aboriginal refers to the Canadian context. Indigenous is a word whose meaning has emerged to mean all people around the globe who are recognized as the original ancestral inhabitants of a given territory before contact with outside groups. Therefore, when the word Indigenous is used it refers to the experiences and worldviews shared among original peoples around the globe.  The grading scheme for each course is also noted.

Wholistic Healing Practices  (Letter Grade)

Students will explore concepts of healing that flow from a wholistic Aboriginal and Indigenous worldview. Healing is understood to be the facilitation of a healing journey for the individual, their family, their extended family, their community, their nation, and for spiritual relationships. The focus of this healing journey is on enhancing the nature of Creation for future generations. Students will become conversant in the understanding of the use of Circle, medicines, ceremonies, and Elders. The use of the Circle process will be a key element of this course.

Aboriginal Kinship Structures and Social Work Practice  (Letter Grade)

The community is the fundamental reference point for an Aboriginal person. It is a source of identity development, for validation, for learning of culture (language, dance, ceremony, etc) and for construction of the whole person (mental-spiritual-emotional-physical). Practice in the community setting is made up of understanding kinship structures, community solidarity, community action, and community nurturing for the present generation and for future generations. This course will enable students to examine the phenomenon of community in the lives of Aboriginal populations, and how interventions into these contexts are an expression of healing processes.

Elders’ Teaching and Indigenous Identity  (Letter Grade)

This course will enable students to spend individual time with Elders to consider their own understanding of the Aboriginal worldview. They will reflect upon their character, nature, spirit, and practice so that their capacity to facilitate other people’s healing will be understood.

Elders’ Teaching and Self-reflection  (Pass (P) / Fail (F) Grade)

This course will enable students to express their own understanding of the wholistic Aboriginal healing process, which they will carry into practice. They will present themselves to Elders and the community of scholars for presentation and affirmation of their capacity to facilitate such processes; whether at the individual, family (group), community, or policy level. Their capacity to undertake Circle processes will also be examined.

Cultural Camp  (Pass (P) / Fail (F) Grade)

This course offers an opportunity for students to learn experientially about the traditional Aboriginal worldview. This includes the values, philosophy, teachings, ceremonies, Creation relationship, and songs, dances, drums. The course will be delivered through a five-day program in a camp setting with the presence of Elders when students first enter the program.

Indigenous Knowledges and Theory  (Letter Grade)

This course will build upon the experiences and knowledge gained by students in the cultural camp setting. Elders will enable students to engage a learning and reflective process which uses the worldview of Indigenous populations. Restorative and healing notions which address the structural and institutional consequences of historical marginalization of the Indigenous worldview will emanate from this reflection.

Indigenous Research Methodologies  (Letter Grade)

This course will enable students to accomplish knowledge building and capacity development while using a research process. Students will engage a wholistic Indigenous Research paradigm which seeks multiple intersecting sources of information within communities around issues which are considered by the community as vital to their understanding of given phenomenon. This research will be empowering to Indigenous populations and be an expression of decolonization processes.