During the 2019-2020 academic year, our FIFSW Alumni Association held a number of diverse events ranging from book club discussions and invited talks, to events such as a “yoga and self-care soirée.” Over 13 events — both virtual and in person — were held, providing opportunities for our graduates to come together to network, learn, share and grow.
During the past academic year, there were six diverse Alumni Association meetings, including a Q&A with Dean Dexter Voisin on the faculties’ five-year strategic plan. At another meeting, Associate Professor Tanya Sharpe, gave a compelling talk on “Survivors of Homicide Victims: Examining the Intersections of the Walking Wounded.” In the new year, Emma Turner, a manager at Etobicoke Children’s Centre presented on “Solution-Focused and Brief Narrative Practices in the Context of a Youth Walk-in Program.”
Building community remotely
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Associate Professor Professor Ellen Katz (PhD 2011) extended daily Online Mindfulness Sittings for alumni, students and faculty via Zoom — a popular and much-needed resource that assisted many during times of heightened stress and uncertainty.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, a number of Field Instructors working on the front lines were unable to continue their instruction. A number of FIFSW alumni stepped in the gap and provided much-needed supervision to help students complete their practicum. To those who were able to help: we can’t thank you enough for volunteering your time and expertise!
On June 2, U of T held a virtual convocation for all spring graduates. The online ceremony included pre-recorded messages from student representatives across all U of T faculties.
FIFSW alumni shared their own congratulatory messages with 19 pieces of advice for new graduates. FIFSW’s graduation package also shared seven ways that the newest members of our alumni community can stay in touch after graduation.
Addressing mental health challenges during and beyond COVID-19
Our FIFSW alumni have also been actively fundraising to support the launch of the Online Counselling Clinic. Alumni President Andria Allen is enthusiastic about the increased reach in mental health supports through video therapy, telephone and text.
Sharing expertise and leadership
As part of a Lunch and Learn series, Kaitlyn Axelrod (MSW 2018) and Kelsey Johnston (MSW 2017), presented on “Understanding Eating Disorders and Providing Support.”
Donna Alexander (MSW 2005) enlightened readers of Toronto Life about the cumulative psychological effects of racism, the need for culturally specific counselling for Black people, and why she believes police should not be first responders to mental health crises.
Keenes Lin (MSW 2019) spoke to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health about Canada’s response to the xenophobic and racist impact of Novel Coronavirus on the Canadian Chinese Community. Her remarks were presented in her role as co-chair for the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, Toronto Chapter.
Notisha Massaquoi (MSW 1997) helped successfully advocate for the first race-based data collection policy for any police service in Canada. This historic policy was unanimously passed on September 19, 2019.