Vol 8(1): Autumn 2017


Top Stories





“We all have a responsibility to each other to make a change. Social workers have a great deal of optimism that the world can change and be better and that given the opportunities individuals can live up to their potential,” said Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr. She received an honorary degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, where she completed an undergraduate degree in psychology.



For over thirty years, Professor McDonald has led the national dialogue on aging, working to improve the care, treatment and quality of life of older adults, in Canada and across the globe.



In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Student Association, the 30 in 30 program recognizes 30 former students who best exemplify a life of leadership and purpose.



Kenn Richard is the Founding Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.



PhD student Sanders received the doctoral scholarship for “Understanding, reaching and supporting students expelled from school: An exploratory study of students who have been expelled in Ontario.”


What’s Going On


“I still get that buzz feeling in my stomach in September, excited and apprehensive,” Professor Marion Bogo told Year 1 MSW students at the Introduction to Social Work Conference. The two-day conference ran September 8 and 9 in Hart House’s majestic Great Hall. Its goal was to acquaint the newest cohort of MSW students with the depth and breadth of social work theories available to them. As Dean Mishna said in her welcoming address, “You need to learn and stay open to all the theories. You never know which one will work best for your client. Social work is all about the client.”

The conference began with a reading of the Statement of Acknowledgement of Traditional Land. This statement was adopted by the University in 2016, to be read at ceremonies across the University; it was developed in consultation with U of T’s First Nations House and its Elders Circle. lehnhotonkwas Bonnie Jane Maracle, Aboriginal Learning Strategist at First Nations House, then offered a Traditional Opening, invoking thanks to all the entities of creation. “Reading this statement is a very meaningful response to the TRC’s Calls for Action,” Maracle explains. “At the beginning of any endeavour where people are going to collectively put their efforts into learning something, we give our greetings, thanksgivings and gratitude to the entities of creation.”

The following two days offered a dynamic learning experience as students began to engage with the complex issues they will grapple with for their entire careers. Students heard from speakers such as Susan Blacker, Senior Director, Cancer and Palliative Program Planning and Performance at Sinai Health System, who provided a perspective on the multiple roles social workers play in hospitals and rising trends in health care such as community outreach and patient navigation.

PhD candidate Lauren McInroy discussed social media and technology and its implications for social work practice, telling the students “Think about your self representations digitally. Be thoughtful and intentional; google yourself often and sculpt your digital footprint.”

Alumna Reshma Dhrodia, Accessibility Advisor at the University, told the students a few things she wished she’d known as a student: “Things like be flexible, take risks and learn from what doesn’t fit perfectly.” She talked about specialization panic and told students not to focus on that and emphasized – as so many speakers did – the importance of self-care.

Liben Gebremikael, the first Executive Director of TAIBU Community Health Centre, described running a community health centre dedicated to serving Toronto’s Black community and Racquel Hamlet discussed her work as a social worker at TAIBU. “Social work is challenging, tough, emotional and very rewarding. Be mindful of how much power you share and think about what is the difference between equality and equity and how do we make sure that some populations are served,” Gebremikael told the students.

Other speakers included Dr. Ryhana Dawood, the founder of a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women around the world through martial arts, and writer Marina Nemat, who recounted her own moving story of imprisonment and torture in Iran as a teenager and her lifelong mission to fight for social justice.

“We have to stand and say no and say I will do things differently. We are all human. Creating the idea of us and them is the worst idea we’ve ever had. Don’t be the silent majority. Stand up for others because one day you may need someone to stand up for you,” Nemat said, urging all of the future social workers in the room to be witnesses.



Congratulations to the newest members of the FIFSW Alumni community – MSW & PhD graduates received their degrees in a Fall Convocation ceremony at Convocation Hall on November 8, followed by a luncheon at Hart House where they celebrated their achievements with family and friends.



The Welcoming Ceremony for the second cohort of the ITR was an opportunity to honour and practise Indigenous traditions and teachings, a time to offer thanksgiving and gratitude. Attending the ceremony in the OFIFC’s Iroquois Room on the afternoon of Saturday, September 16 were students in the second cohort of the ITR, ITR-FIFSW faculty, FIFSW staff and OFIFC staff.

It was also a celebration of the future. “The MSW will open doors for you and with the ITR, you’ll come in through a new doorway,” Maracle said. “We are building relationships and coming to an early understanding of each other,”

There was a strong sense of shared purpose. Students, who had come from all over Canada for their first six-day intensive course at the Faculty, talked about how proud and honoured they felt to be a part of the ITR. One woman — a member of the first cohort — said, “I was so excited; I had to come. I wanted to meet everyone who was coming next.”

A cornerstone of the ITR is that students remain in their communities while they are studying for their MSW, completing assignments online, and coming together at the Faculty for five six-day intensive courses over the two-year program. The ITR was developed in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and the Middelton-Moz Institute.



The conference, which was open to the public, was presented by the RBC Chair in Public and Economic Policy, Faculty of Arts and Science, and the RBC Chair in Social Work Research at the University of Toronto; it was co-hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Science and our Faculty.

A strong slate of speakers attracted a lively audience from across the city. Professor Andreas Park, Department of Management, University of Toronto Mississauga, started the day off by providing an overview of the Canadian fintech landscape. Professor Angelo Melino, RBC Chair in Public and Economic Policy, described the kind of changes fintech is bringing. Professor David Wolfe, Co-Director, Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School of Political Science, examined the evolving fintech ecosystem in the Greater Toronto Region.

The conference concluded with a lunchtime address from Grahame Johnson, Managing Director of the Bank of Canada’s Funds Management and Banking Department, Bank of Canada, who provided insight into the Bank of Canada’s perspective on fintech’s risks and opportunities.


What’s Happening in Practicum


The in-class panel presentations gave MSW students a unique chance to hear directly from social workers about what life is like in diverse community settings. Rotating through four panels over the two-day period, students heard presentations, asked questions and reflected about the kind of work they might be doing in their future careers.

The panels, which were developed in lieu of former site visits, provide students with information about social work in community settings. They are the result of a collaboration between the Practicum Office and two Year 1 MSW courses, Elements of Social Work Practice and Social Work Practice Laboratory, which are coordinated by Professor Ellen Katz.

The initiative’s goal is to enable students to learn about the breadth and depth of choice — the array of rich career opportunities in social work — and the kind of impact they can have in community settings dealing with challenges such as housing, addictions, disability and diverse communities.



Recent Faculty Events

Essential Skills of Interprofessional Practice

On September 22, Dr. Michael Dentato, Loyola University, Chicago, discussed the Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model, an emerging interprofessional practice model for screening individuals for alcohol and substance abuse.


Neighbour to Neighbour

An October 20 presentation was a chance to learn about Neighbour to Neighbour (N2N), a collaborative visiting program for isolated older adults in Toronto’s downtown area, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and supported by four community agencies, The Neighbourhood Group, Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre, West Neighbourhood House and Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre.


The ‘Men’ in Mental Health

On November 9 and 10, Dr. Daphne C. Watkins, University of Michigan, discussed her research designed to increase understanding of how intersecting social determinants and gender dynamics place Black men at high risk for poor health. The presentations were co-sponsored with OISE. One took place at the Faculty and one at the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention.


Supporting Non-Status Women

Deepa Mattoo, Legal Director of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, led a legal education workshop designed to build the capacity of settlement workers, social workers, lawyers and students who work with non-status women who have experienced violence on November 13.


Preventing Falls in Advanced Dementia

On November 14, Dr. Andrea Iaboni, Geriatric Psychiatrist, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and U of T Professor, discussed fall prevention in advanced dementia.


Ethics and Human Rights

Dr. Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, University of East Anglia, discussed his research related to care home quality in Argentina, ethics and human rights abuse on November 28.




Human/Sex Trafficking: A Conversation

February 6, 2018
12:15 pm – 1:20 pm
OISE, 252 Bloor St. West, Room 5-230

A dialogue led by Rebecca Martell and Brianna Olson.



Featuring:  Setsuko Thurlow

March 15, 2018
6:00 pm
The Royal Conservatory of Music, 273 Bloor Street West
Registration required. Further details TBA.

One of FIFSW’s prominent alumni, Setsuko Thurlow is a survivor of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing who has devoted her life to social work and a relentless campaign against nuclear weapons. She is accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on December 10, 2017.