RDC instructor says social workers should forge closer bonds with indigenous people

Elaine Spencer believes too many native kids are still taken into government care

Red Deer College instructor Elaine Spencer urges her own social work profession to own up to past wrongs by fully apologizing to indigenous people for its role in the destructive residential school system.

It would be a step towards forging a stronger relationship with the aboriginal community, said Spencer. She co-authored the academic paper No Regrets: Suggested Improvements to Public Apologies along with fellow RDC social work department colleague, the late Tara Dahl-Lang, and former RDC philosophy instructor Jim Gough.

While studying various public expressions of regret about Canada’s Indian Residential Schools, Spencer found that the federal government and RCMP made full apologies, while the Canadian Association of Social Workers only acknowledged its role in pulling native children from their families for assimilation.

The point of apologizing to indigenous communities is to let all Canadians know you are owning up to the harm caused in the past and resolving to learned from it, she added. “It’s an important step — that everybody knows you are sorry and that you want to do better.”

Spencer feels the social work profession is doing positive things — including “becoming a voice to push some issues forward.” The association recently urged Ottawa to correct the funding inequity that exists between what’s spent on children’s health, education and social services on reserves, compared to kids living off-reserves.

But she feels there’s room for improvement since a disproportionate number of indigenous children continue to be taken from their families into government care, including in group homes and foster homes.

“Since they are over-represented in care, there’s a need to do something differently,” said Spencer.

She would like social workers to forge closer relationships with First Nations communities, since she believes indigenous people should have a more central role in finding solutions to problems stemming from the “inter-generational trauma” caused by residential schooling and discrimination.

“We need to listen to what the whole community is saying” — whether it means allowing relatives or elders to help out in at-risk homes, or other options.

Spencer believes the profession is making good headway in considering the views of indigenous social workers. “There are some really good things happening.”

No Regrets was among nine academic projects that recently won Scholarly Activity Recognition Awards from RDC.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

EDMONTON — Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg marched into the middle of… Continue reading

Alleged sex assault victim details struggles in proposed suit against Toronto school

TORONTO — A former student at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto… Continue reading

Leaders trade accusations of desperation tactics as campaign heads down to wire

OTTAWA — The three main party leaders accused one another of desperation… Continue reading

Probation for some new Alberta bus, truck drivers after Broncos family pressure

EDMONTON — Alberta’s transportation minister says there will be a two-year probationary… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP looking for missing 64-year-old woman

Red Deer RCMP are asking the public to help find a missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer Citizens on Patrol monitoring downtown with new program

Volunteers will patrol downtown Red Deer to help keep the city safe.… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

Meet the candidates running in Red Deer-Mountain View

Each of the candidates running in the Red Deer-Mountain View riding were… Continue reading

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

EDMONTON — Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg marched into the middle of… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels struggle early, fall to Oil Kings

Oil Kings 5 Rebels 1 It’s been a tough stretch for the… Continue reading

Pick ’Em: No clear favourite on Canadian men’s curling scene this season

The days of just one or two Canadian men’s curling teams being… Continue reading

Brooke Henderson hits hole in 1, leads LPGA Shanghai

SHANGHAI — Canada’s Brooke Henderson hit a hole-in-one and shot a tournament… Continue reading

Alleged sex assault victim details struggles in proposed suit against Toronto school

TORONTO — A former student at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto… Continue reading

Leaders trade accusations of desperation tactics as campaign heads down to wire

OTTAWA — The three main party leaders accused one another of desperation… Continue reading

Most Read