Animals in Indigenous Spiritualities: Implications for Critical Social Work
Melissa Marie Legge & Margaret Robinson
This article explores the roles of other-than-human (OTH) animals in the spiritualities of Indigenous Canadians, and the implications of these roles for anti-oppressive or decolonial social work practices. To respond to the needs of the people with whom they work, social workers must look beyond the Eurocentric roots of the profession and consider other ways of knowing and doing. Hart (2009) points out that spirituality is central to an Aboriginal approach to social work. Despite this, the implications of spirituality for social work have not been centred in scholarship. The study of OTH animals in social work is an emerging field, and we hope this paper will contribute to a broad and nuanced conversation about Indigenous spiritualities, animal relationships, and critical social work.
Unsettling Methodologies/Decolonizing Movements
As movements for social justice within settler colonial states like Canada and the United States begin to centralize Indigenous struggles for sovereignty as foundational to liberation, non-Indigenous movement participants are challenged to contend with what it means to decolonize within their respective movements. This article explores the potential to engage in decolonizing research methodologies among non-Indigenous anti-authoritarian activist groups. Based on an ethnographic and qualitative research with activists, this paper highlights three core themes emerging out of an attempt to assert a decolonizing methodological approach to research in non-Indigenous activist communities, including: identity and belonging, accountability and consent, and responsibility and appropriation.
The Significance of Indigenous Knowledge in Social Work Responses to Collective Recovery: A Rwandan Case Study
Dr. Régine Uwibereyeho King, Dr. Nimo Bokore & Dr. Suzanne Dudziak
This paper reports a portion of findings of a large research project that sought to understand social helping and healing practices that have arisen in the post-genocide contexts that could inform social work education and practice in Rwanda. A team of Canadian and Rwandan researchers used a community-based and collaborative practice to invite local partners to share their knowledge through 4 different annual workshops. The findings indicated that the locus of helping in Rwanda is focused on community or collective practices, such gutababarana “mutual rescue,” umuganda “community work,” and ibimina “tontines.” These practices are supported by the Rwandan government policies that encourage the revitalization of traditional ways of solving socio-economic problems and rebuilding social relations. Yet, the study noted a disconnect between learned theories and local practices and locally produced materials as social work becomes professionalized in Rwanda. Implications for social work education and practice in post-colonial post-conflict societies are discussed.
“Fake Vegans”: Indigenous Solidarity and Animal Liberation Activism
Dr. Melissa Marie Legge & Rasha Taha
The Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority has negotiated with Parks Canada to determine safe areas for indigenous hunters to exercise their Treaty rights in Ontario. One of these areas is Short Hills Provincial Park. Every year, a group of protestors block the park in an attempt to prevent hunters from legally exercising their rights. The protestors are a combination of property owners who have a "not in my backyard" mentality, and animal activists who object to the deer harvest. In response to the protests, supporters of the hunters have taken a stance of solidarity at the park entrance to try to disrupt the protests. The supporters consist of indigenous peoples and settler allies, members of CPT-IPS, Christian Peacemaker Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team, and members of HALT, Hamilton Animal Liberation Team. This paper focuses on deconstructing the experiences of settler animal liberation activists demonstrating in solidarity with indigenous hunters.
Métis-Astute Social Work: Shining the light on some helpful practices
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation process highlighted the need for improvements in the child welfare system in regards to serving Indigenous families. Structurally, Métis children are both unrecognized and over-represented in provincial child welfare systems across Canada. In addition, Métis people are disproportionately likely to experience health and social problems leading to social work involvement for reasons of perceived neglect or poverty. As we move forward, it is crucial that social work practice attends to these complex issues and helps families construct life-solutions based on Métis values and aspirations. This article addresses social work practice with Métis families by exploring factors that contribute to Métis well-being and helpful social work approaches while also offering a critique of practices which further marginalize Métis families. This article is intended to inform social work with Métis families by offering an approach to helping which may be considered nurturing, supportive, empowering and non-colonizing. There may be relevance also for social work with First Nations and Inuit communities although it is the differences that compel this article to address Métis-specific issues. This article also explores issues of Métis identification, identity, and social work practices which dignify, rather than further alienate Métis families. In other words this article outlines what is referred to as Métis-astute practice.