Rhona Hutchinson

Rhona Hutchinson

I am a second year postgraduate student at Stirling University currently undertaking my MSc in Social Work qualification.

For the trip, I had two main areas of interest -community social work and working with minority groups such as indigenous peoples. I was interested to see how community social work looked in practice and was able to function so well in Canada whereas in the UK its purpose and service has been split and lost into other services where it is not a priority.  The other area of interest I have is working with minority groups and was truly unprepared for the learning that I would undertake about indigenous people.  The lack of awareness surrounding the history and the UK’s role in indigenous history shocked me to a point I felt quite embarrassed and ashamed at my lack of knowledge.

During the trip, we had the opportunity to meet with government agency social workers, third party organisations and people who used the services.  As students, we were keen to explain and share how social work was done at home and the Canadians reciprocated this so that everyone learned from each other.  We also had the opportunity to attend the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University where we could share our learning and learn from other students and academic staff.  We were privileged to also experience some of the indigenous ceremonies enabling us to learn about indigenous culture.

As social work students, we feel we have returned with a responsibility and opportunity to share our experiences and to provide a legacy of our trip.  Since returning home we have started working on how we may do this to share our learning.  Part of this is also about raising awareness and educating people about the shared history of our two nations.   

The experience was something I shall never forget and I now have plans to return in the future to Canada to see more of the beautiful country with my family.  The experience has intensified my interests in different roles within social work and has highlighted how shared learning can be most beneficial.  Canada, thank you for being so welcoming and enjoyable.