Kirsty Watson

Kirsty Watson

Our trip started off with a very insightful introduction by Les Jerome, a social work instructor, who spoke about Indigenous Knowledge, the importance of critical thinking and how the abuse of power has led to the oppression of minority groups in Canada. We also discussed the differences between culture and heritage and the importance of not seeing all indigenous individuals as being a generic “Indian”. Some interesting parallels were drawn between Scotland’s history and that of Canada particularly around how the abuse of power was used to divide and control groups of people.

As well as learning about Indigenous Culture, we had the opportunity to meet with several community social workers, who told us about their jobs. Community social work does not exist in Scotland in the same way it does in Canada; We also talked about how community social work was used, among other things, to bring together “Newcomers” to Canada who have recently immigrated with people who have lived in the same place for years.

Learning about community social work really opened by eyes to the potential which social work can make a real difference to people’s lives, and not just at times of crisis. I was left with a sense of admiration about the varied roles which people with a social work degree may have in Canada. There were similarities between the two countries, including shortages of funding and a high rate of burn out and work place stress. I left Canada, however, looking forward to my future career in social work, one in which I plan on implementing many of the lessons which I learned in my time at the other side of the Atlantic.