In 2009 the Nunatsiavut Government contracted Memorial University’s School of Social Work to deliver a fully-accredited, four-year bachelor of social work degree program in Labrador. The Inuit Bachelor of Social Work program’s design emphasized the standardized social work program of study with traditional Inuit knowledge and cultural norms interwoven into the courses and teaching methods. The Labrador Institute, Memorial’s presence in Labrador, was closely involved with program planning and delivery, ensuring that local instructors were involved in offering courses whenever possible.
We are very proud of the outcome of this collaboration with the Nunatsiavut Government, Labrador Institute, College of the North Atlantic, other Memorial departments, and community partners, and we are also proud of the commitment shown by all involved to integrate traditional Inuit knowledge and cultural norms into our fully accredited four-year Bachelor of Social Work degree program.
Many dedicated people here at Memorial’s School of Social Work were involved with the IBSW program - from its inception, to administrative staff and various committees who supported the program, to faculty and instructors who commuted from St. John’s or who made Labrador their home for a semester to teach and mentor our students, to field instructors who supervised students’ placements, to the convocation celebration in Labrador, to assistance with a final report on the program. Many people worked tirelessly to make this program a success.
Others have recognized the importance of this program as well – as the program won a national award - the Changemakers Initiative: Inspiring Approaches to First Nations, Metis and Inuit Learning Award for its “innovation, social impact and sustainability”.
The IBSW program was a wonderful example of the success that can be achieved when people come together to ensure a common goal is reached. This collaboration has helped develop new ways to contribute to the social work body of knowledge and to increase cultural understandings, and has resulted in a collaborative model of undergraduate social work education.
We hope the people of our province, in Labrador, are reaping the benefits of the knowledge of our graduates.
Articles on the IBSW program:
Navigating Traditional Knowledge and Current Practice: Graduate of Inuit bachelor of social work program finds balance between traditional and current approaches to health care in her hometown of Nain. See page 10.
Native and Inuit Resource Magazine