MSW-IK Program

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Program Information - Rationale & Objectives

Rationale

With the growing urban Indigenous population and the gaps of services for rural Indigenous populations, there is a strong need for social workers to explore Indigenous forms of caring that are applicable to the unique circumstances of Indigenous clients and communities, in both rural and urban areas. More and more, Indigenous communities and social work agencies are revealing their frustrations with the absence of long-term, accessible, and Indigenous-centred educational programs. With that said, there is a need for Indigenous social workers to explore Indigenous forms of caring which are applicable to the unique circumstances of Indigenous clients and communities. Indigenous caring is rooted in traditional knowledge, values, social structures, and healing practices of First Nations Peoples.

As a university serving the largest Indigenous community in the country, the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba intends to be in the forefront of exploring and developing Indigenous knowledges and practices in relation to social work education. For the Faculty of Social Work, this means that we need to develop programs that are directly relevant to Indigenous peoples, communities, perspectives, and practices, such as the Master of Social Work based in Indigenous Knowledges Program.

Objectives

  1. The nine (9) objectives of the MSW-IK Program are as follows:

    1. To provide social work education and advanced social work practice skills that are based in Indigenous ways of knowing and being.

    2. To support students in their personal development as social workers working from Indigenous perspectives;

    3. To provide historical understandings based on Indigenist and critical theory perspectives of the events which have led to present circumstances Indigenous peoples face;

    4. To guide students in developing their understandings of social justice, anti-oppressive practices, anti-colonialism, and Indigenism and how these concepts apply to social work practice and analysis of social policies;

    5. To explore Indigenous forms of helping and supporting that are applicable to the unique circumstances of Indigenous clients and communities;

    6. To recover and support Indigenous values, practices, and structures in processes of learning, healing, and decolonization for individuals, families, communities, and nations;

    7. To support students, scholars, and practitioners to fully explore Indigenous understandings of helping practices, knowledges, and research as applicable to social work;

    8. To empower Indigenous identities through the concepts of social locations, Indigenous worldviews, languages, knowledges, and practices; and

    9. To maintain a close connection with Indigenous communities and agencies in the delivery of the program.

It is important to note that the proposed program has the deepest respect for traditional Indigenous helping practices and healers, and the Elders who are well versed in these practices and related knowledges. As such, the Master of Social Work based in Indigenous Knowledges Program is being developed not to create traditional Indigenous healers or Elders, but is focused on developing social workers whose skills are rooted in Indigenous knowledges and worldviews.