A new agreement between the Nunatsiavut Government and Memorial University will see a number of Inuit students completing a Bachelor's of Social Work degree in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
The joint efforts of the Nunatsiavut Government and Memorial's School of Social Work resulted in the partnership that will deliver the pre-social work program to 33 individuals. Eventually, 20 successful applicants will be admitted to the social work program in the fall of 2010. The program will provide a generalist, undergraduate social work education that integrates aboriginal content. The two parties reached an agreement in October 2009. The program will be offered completely in Labrador, allowing students to remain at home while they study.
"We are very pleased to be partnering with Memorial on this initiative," says Nunatsiavut’s Minister of Education and Economic Development Darryl Shiwak. "There is a tremendous need throughout Nunatsiavut and, indeed, all of Labrador, for social workers and the delivery of services. The Nunatsiavut Government is committed to building healthier communities through programs and services aimed at addressing the day-to-day challenges faced by those in need."
“We are always looking for ways to involve Memorial productively in the community and this is a particularly good example of how collaborative arrangements lead to new opportunities,” says Dr. Chris Loomis, president and vice-chancellor of Memorial, pro tempore. “In this case, we’ll see a cohort of aboriginal students not only study near their homes, but also receive a program that is sensitive to their culture.”
The program reflects Inuit culture and values, and offers non-social work courses that provide the maximum amount of aboriginal content. The program is designed to prepare graduates to practice in both Inuit and non-Inuit settings. Memorial professors will travel to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in order to allow Inuit students to remain and study in Labrador. Various courses will also be delivered by qualified professionals from the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area.
“We have long known that some communities require alternatives to the traditional models for learning, and this is the case here,” said Dr. Reeta Tremblay, vice-president (academic) pro tempore. “We undertook a careful discussion with the Nunatsiavut Government and came up with a plan that we feel addresses the needs of students in Labrador and preserves the academic integrity of our social work program. I am pleased that this partnership has been reached and see it as a model for future arrangements with other communities that might need them.”
“The School of Social Work is happy to have been invited by the Nunatsiavut Government to participate in preparing Inuit to deliver social work services to their communities,” said Ellen Oliver, acting director of Memorial’s School of Social Work. “The school benefits from this collaboration through the sharing knowledge about Inuit culture which can be incorporated into the social work program.”
While participating students will relocate to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in order to complete their coursework, they will return to Labrador Inuit communities to be employed in the social work field upon their graduation from the program.
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