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Dedication and cultural understanding are the basic qualifications of a good social worker. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indians proposes that the social workers on reserves should be Indians. This proposal is based on the belief that social workers in Indian communities can be effective only if they respect the elders in the bands, and have genuine interest in the well-being of the people with whom they are working.
In the past, the functions that are now attributed to social workers were performed by the elders or wise men in the community. These people did not practise social work as a profession, but their assistance was sought because of their acquired reputation for maturity and ability to give sound guidance. However with the impact of industrialization, changes in social structure and life styles and generally because of the numerous unavoidable changes that individuals and communities must cope with, the art of the social worker has become much more complex. In fact, so complex that it has become an important part of the educational programs taught at most universities and that the good social worker has become a very highly valued and respected person.
The skills of a social worker are helpful in any situation where human beings have to depend upon each other and where human interaction is a factor in the effective and successful functioning of an individual or group. The Federation, in recognizing that most of our life depends upon interpersonal relations, also recognizes that university training for Indian social workers should be a special one, one that takes into consideration Indian traditions and life styles as well as problems and aspiration unique to the Indian people.
With these points in mind, the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College in co-operation with the School of Social Work of the University of Regina has devised an education program especially designed to meet the professional needs of Indian social workers working among Indian communities. The Indian Social Work Education Program emphasizes excellence in academic performance as well as the use of practical experience gained through field practice.
Information on the course is available through band council offices, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, Indian Affairs offices and the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College.
Applicants must have a minimum of two years experience in a field related to social work (teaching, band administration, counselling, etc.) be 21 years of age or older and have a good reading and writing ability or have a grade 12 and the ability to earn or have 20 credit hours by taking social work courses as the university. Exceptions are made in special cases. Class limit is 20 and a selection criteria is used placing emphasis on the academic ability of the applicant to finish the training successfully and the individual's personality traits.
The length of the course is one and a half years, but may be less depending on the number of credits granted to the student for competencies gained through experiences. A student can be given 0-20 credits for previous experience. The academic requirement for graduation is that the student successfully complete 64 semester hours of class. Students earn 40 credit hours on a full-time basis from September to June with the remaining 4 to 24 credit hours of practicum field placement required to be tailored to the individual students needs. Classes will be held at the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College in Saskatoon. The four-month Practicum (field placement) will be arranged in different settings (reserve, Indian Affairs, Department of Social Services, institutions, etc.) as well as different parts of the province to suit the needs and convenience of the student.
For further information in reference to the Indian Social Work Education Program or to make an application, contact:
Indian Social Work Education Program,
Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College,
Emmanuel & St. Chads
I.S.W.E.P. students in training.
Dick Harrison, I.S.W.E.P. Instructor.