National group urges feds to save social work programCanadian Association of Social Workers pens letter in support of Aurora College
Northern News Services
Friday, March 10, 2017
The Canadian Association of Social Workers is urging the federal government to help keep the Aurora College social work program alive.
Jan Christianson-Wood, president of the Canadian Association of Social Workers, is calling for support from the federal government for the Aurora College social work program. -
In a letter tabled Monday at the legislative assembly, association president Jan Christianson-Wood asked the Government of Canada "to leverage federal transfers to ensure the social work program is not lost to residents of the NWT."
The letter, tabled by Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green, is addressed to Patricia Hajdu, the federal employment minister.
On Monday, Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod announced the government will reinstate $669,000 in proposed cuts to the college's teacher education and social work programs.
But that decision does little for those hoping to get into the programs next year, as the school is closing the door to new students until a foundational review of the college can be completed.
That review is expected to be done by fall and implemented by the 2018-19 academic year, according to the Education, Culture and Employment Minister Alfred Moses.
The territorial government hasn't made any promises to reinstate the programs following the review.
Christianson-Wood says program cuts "will severely and negatively impact social service provision in Northern Canada, directly countering the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission."
Those recommendations include ending the "backlog of indigenous Canadians seeking a post-secondary education," she stated in her letter.
Sally Guy, director of policy and strategy at the association, said reconciliation is a focus for many Canadians right now. The organization wrote the letter to support reconciliation efforts, particularly because Aurora College is "the only school of its kind," with "high levels of indigenous student enrolment," Guy said.
She added the Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada reached out the national organization - its partner - to ask for help in fighting the possible program cuts.
Students have taken this initiative as well.
Guy said the association received several e-mails from "passionate social work students who ... are saying this is a terrible decision for our community, this is not going to help reconciliation. But on a smaller level, this isn't going to help us in our everyday lives," Guy said.
She said students told her they want to go to school, become social workers and stay in their communities while being educated.
"As social workers, one of the things we believe is that the best people to serve a community are people from that community," she said.
The association hasn't yet received a response from the federal minister to its letter, but it is holding out hope that it will.
"We haven't heard back yet," Guy said. "I can't say that they're not intending to write back."