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Vol 6 (1) Autumn 2015

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This year’s “Introduction to Social Work Conference” was held in Hart House’s majestic Great Hall on September 10 and 11. Year 1 MSW students sat at round tables which encouraged discussion as they compared notes on how hard it had been to get into the program, specializations they were considering and responses to speakers. Many of the students said that they had entered the program thinking that they would specialize in a particular area but after listening to the range and breadth of the outstanding speakers, they began to consider quite different options.

That, of course, was the purpose. As Dean Faye Mishna explained in her welcoming remarks, the conference was designed to introduce incoming students to the entire spectrum of social work approaches — some now in favour, others no longer in favour – because, as professionals, they would need to use all approaches with clients.

Students heard rousing speeches from a wide range of engaging speakers including Dr. Linda Baker, the Learning Director at the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children at Western University, who discussed Gender-Based Violence; Susan Blacker, the Director of Cancer Services Planning and Performance at St. Michael’s Hospital, who described new trends such as patient engagement; and social worker Reshma Dhrodia, who told the crowd she had been one of them just five years earlier and is now a committed advocate on behalf of the elderly. Students also heard from Professor Lin Fang about a subject of increasing relevance: the heightened need to be conscious of their personal and professional role on social media.

Alison Benedict, a member of the Mohawk Nation from Akwesasne, Wolf Clan, and a clinical social worker specializing in child abuse and neglect, began the second day with a moving speech outlining Aboriginal history, followed by a presentation by the Canadian Roots Exchange (housed on the Faculty’s seventh floor) describing their inspirational youth-led cross-Canada work to build bridges and promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

The conference concluded with two heartfelt speeches from survivors of violence. Writer Marina Nemat told her story of resilience and courage as a teenager in the face of torture in an Iranian prison. Then Oliver Mweneake spoke. Soft-spoken, impassioned, and a man of great conviction, Mweneake survived barbarism and trauma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is now a Senior Social Worker at The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre. Their speeches led to a thoughtful discussion about the language we use to describe trauma, emphasizing the importance of transcending jargon, learning to listen and bear witness. Powerful words that were a moving end to two inspirational days.



Let’s Hear It For Our Fall Grads

You Are Now The Newest Members of Our Alumni Family

Following Convocation, the Alumni Association sponsored a luncheon for the new grads and their families at the Faculty Club. Dean Mishna welcomed the newly minted graduates into our alumni family. Emphasizing the strong bond that exists between alumni and the Faculty, she urged them to mentor students, become field instructors, join the Alumni Board and attend the numerous events that take place at the Faculty over each academic year.

As alumni, she told them, they are presented with an incredible opportunity. This is their chance to have a lasting impact on future generations. Our Faculty wants to remain connected with all of our alumni. Keep us updated by completing a brief form.


Introducing the 2015/2016 Alumni Association Board of Directors

We are proud to announce our latest slate of FIFSW Alumni Association Board of Directors, led by our new Alumni President Alexandra Wilson.


100th Anniversary Commemorative Book Still Available

Copies are still available of our 100th Anniversary commemorative book. This glossy, illustrated – and highly admired (if we do say so ourselves) – history of the Faculty and its impact on the community over the past century would make a great gift. Available from the Advancement Office at 416-978-4437 or



Bertha Rosenstadt Trust Research Now Available Online

Discover the cutting-edge research initiatives that dedicated field instructors are pursuing with funding from the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust Research. At a February 6, 2015 showcase at the Faculty in honour of our 100th anniversary, nine partner organizations presented research they have been conducting. This lively event became a wonderful opportunity for a true dialogue. You can now read all about the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust Research and the interesting research these impressive FIFSW partner organizations have undertaken. More.


Would You Like to Make A Difference in the Education of Future Generations of Social Workers?

As experienced social workers committed to the education of future professionals, field instructors play an absolutely vital role in our MSW students’ education. If you are interested in giving back and helping our students become more competent social workers, please contact the Practicum Office at Be sure to view the alumni interviews at “Why be a field instructor?” Their inspirational comments as they describe the benefits are hard to resist.




2016 Mindful Self-Compassion Externship with Dr. Christopher Germer

We are thrilled to bring Dr. Christopher Germer, a leading clinical psychologist specializing in mindfulness and compassion-based psychology, to the mindfulness community. Dr. Germer is a clinical instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, a co-director of the annual Harvard Medical School “Meditation and Psychotherapy” Conference which hosted the Dalai Lama in 2009 and the author of numerous publications including “The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion.”

Dr. Germer has developed a Mindful Self-Compassion program which integrates Buddhist teachings with modern psychotherapy. He lectures and conducts workshops across the globe teaching mental health professionals Mindful Self-Compassion. Enrolment is limited. Please contact the Continuing Education Office at or 416-978-3259.


2015/2016 Course Calendar Enriches and Delights Learners

Be sure to check out the mind-boggling selection of courses available in the 2015/2016 Continuing Education Course Calendar that will enable you to grow and learn both professionally and personally over the 2015/2016 academic year.



Transformed by Grief and Bereavement 

On October 23 at the Faculty, Dr. Joan Berzoff, professor at Smith College, School for Social Work, discussed dying, end-of-life-care, death and the transformative nature of loss and bereavement as tools for empowerment and social action.


Motivational Interviewing 

Dr. Allen Zweben, Columbia University School of Social Work, provided a stimulating opportunity at his November 13 workshop to learn state-of-the-art, evidence-based techniques and procedures in Motivational Interviewing (MI) with a focus on integrating MI strategies in social work clinical practice.


The Power of Intergenerational Bonds 

On November 25 at the Faculty, Dr. Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz, School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University, discussed the benefits of an emotionally close grandparent-grandchild relationship and the contribution of this intergenerational bond to the development of adolescent well-being. She examined these issues within the Israeli context, among Arab and Jewish adolescents, and on an international level.



April 1, 2016


“Youth Agency and the Culture of the Law: A Canadian Curriculum on Forced Marriage”

9:00 – 11:00 am
Room 548, FIFSW

If you have an accommodation need, please let Natasha know and she will do her best to make appropriate arrangements.