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Indigenous Social Work

Become a registered social worker and learn how to deliver effective service to vulnerable populations with Indigenous and mainstream social work theories, perspectives, and practices.

The program is fully accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE-ACFTS).

This professional program requires two field education practicums totalling 700 hours. Students in the Indigenous Social Work program will develop the knowledge and skills to work effectively with Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations that utilize a helping service.

This program is offered full-time on campus and full-time online (Fall and Winter)

The Indigenous Social Work program has limited enrollment.

Conseiller ou conseillère aux études

For an Appointment with our BISW Coordinator

Téléphone : (705) 675-1151 ext. 5082

Courriel : sir@laurentian.ca

Bureau :
Tanya Menard, Administrative Assistant
(705) 675-1151 ext. 5082

Comment déposer une demande d'études de premier cycle Ce programme vous intéresse?
Vue aérienne de l'Université Laurentienne
Le Grand Sudbury est la plus vaste ville en Ontario par superficie terrestre, où les activités de plein air ne manquent pas grâce aux lacs et cours d’eau, terrains variés, forêts et réseaux complets de pistes et de sentiers.
Méthode de livraison : Sur campus/en ligne
Langue du programme : Anglais

Interesting Facts:

  • This four-year program leads to an Honours Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work (HBISW).

  • The program is accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE-ACFTS).

  • The program prepares students for Provincial Social Work registration and license from the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW).

  • The program is offered on campus on a full-time basis.

  • The program is also offered remotely via Laurentian Online with full-time and part-time options – Fall/Winter terms only (September to April). 

  • During the spring term, a select number of courses are available for registration. They include: 

    • ISWK-1006EL - Introduction to Indigenous Social Welfare
    • ISWK-1007EL - Introduction to Indigenous Social Welfare and Social Work Practice
    • ISWK-3605EL - Field Instruction I
    • ISWK-4605EL - Field Instruction II
  • Students complete two mandatory field practicums during third and fourth year.

  • Proudly, our program is run by Indigenous faculty and staff. 


About the program:

This program prepares students to work effectively in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous social work settings. Students gain a comprehensive understanding of social work practice through relevant coursework pertaining to social welfare and social work applications, gain in-depth knowledge of Indigenous and mainstream theories and perspectives, and the opportunity to put theory to practice in real social work settings. The concept of holism, the importance of relationship-building, connections to the land, intergenerational trauma, colonization, and decolonization are common themes throughout the program.


Field Practicum Hub

If you are ready to begin your field practicum, visit the Indigenous Social Work Field Practicum Hub!



Indigenous Social Work Journal 
Formally called the "Native Social Work Journal”.

Published by the School of Indigenous Relations, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

The Indigenous Social Work Journal is registered and endorsed by the Canadian Association of Learned Journals (CALJ).

Volumes 1 - 10 can be found on the LUL Zone website by clicking on the link below: 

Indigenous Social Work Journal 

Visit the School of Indigenous Relations for more information.


Seven Grandfather Teachings - The Seven Gifts

1.   Nbwaakaawin

To cherish Knowledge is to know WISDOM.

2.   Zaagidiwin

To know LOVE is to know peace.

3.   Mnaadendiwin

To honour all of the Creation is to have RESPECT.

4.   Aakde’win

BRAVERY is to face the foe with integrity.

5.   Gwekwaadziwin

HONESTY is facing a situation is to be brave.

6.   Dbadendizwin

HUMILITY is to know yourself as a sacred part of the Creation.

7.   Debwewin

TRUTH is to know all of these things.


These are the teachings that were given to the Nishnaabe Nation.

“Remember that the other Nations were given teachings that are slightly different from these.  But in all the teachings of different Nations, there are commonalities.  This sameness refers to the basic Truth that interweaves all-natural ways of living.”   (Benton-Banai, 1988)

The Medicine Wheel is an ancient symbol used to express and represent the meaning of the Four Sacred Directions which encompass all of the teachings of the Seven Grandfathers so that we can live in Harmony with all of the Creation.

In addition to the Seven Grandfather Teachings, the Canadian Association of Social Work Educators Code of Ethics and Obligations, the International Federation of Social Work Declaration of Ethical Principles of Social Work, and the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers Code of Ethics apply.




What does Indigenous Social Work mean?

Indigenous Social Work reflects the bicultural nature of the school, which means that both Indigenous and mainstream perspectives are incorporated into the curriculum (Indigenous Social Welfare and Indigenous Social Work).


May I transfer courses from other post-secondary institutions?

If you are transferring from a CAAT (College of Applied Arts and Technology) the transfer courses are contingent upon successful completion of the diploma and the student’s GPA (grade point average) and program relevancy or compatibility with the Indigenous Social Work Program.

Transfers from another university will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Transfers are determined in conjunction with the Office of Admissions. If you are transferring from another university and you have a degree, you would fall under the Second Degree Policy which would require a minimum of 11 six-credit courses or 66 ISWK credits to complete the degree and maybe PSYC 1105, SOCI 1015 if not taken if your 1st Degree.

The timeframe to complete the program is determined by whether you choose to take full-time or part-time.


Is the Honours Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work program an accredited professional degree?

Yes, the Honours Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work is accredited through the Canadian Association for Social Work Educators (CASWE) as are all other Schools of Social Work.


Can I register for the program if I am non-Indigenous?

The program is open to any candidate who wants to be trained in Indigenous Social Work practice, wants a professional degree, or is currently an employee in the field of social work and wants to upgrade their credentials.


Are there job opportunities outside of First Nations Communities?

This program does not limit graduates to First Nations Communities only. Graduates obtain employment in both urban and rural settings. Employment opportunities that are designated as Aboriginal positions will be filled by an Aboriginal person.


What about distance education?

The program is completely available through distance education. The program is offered through Laurentian Online and is offered on a part-time and full-time basis. 


How long will it take to complete the degree through distance education?

The program takes four years to complete on campus and online when taken on a full-time basis.


Would my previous experience in the field of social work count toward program requirements?

In recognition of the student’s relevant employment experience, there is an Advanced Standing for 3rd year Field Placement Challenge. The criteria states that the student must have a minimum of five years of paid relevant employment experience with an agency to be eligible to apply.

The course challenge is available at a cost. If a student fails the course challenge exam, they must take the 300-hour field placement. 


Why do students enroll through the distance segment of the Honours Bachelor of  Indigenous Social Work Program? 

Some students are unable to relocate to the Sudbury campus due to employment and family responsibilities. Through Laurentian Online, the students can meet their educational and professional development needs.


Can I transfer from distance education to the on-campus program or vice versa?

It is the student’s choice to be on or off campus. If the need arises to move from the on-campus program to the distance program, it is just a matter of speaking with your academic advisor and sending the information to the registrar.


Can graduates of the Honours Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work Program register with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers (OCSWSSW)?

Graduates of the Honours Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work Program are eligible to register with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW), the college that governs social work practice.

In the future, many social service employees on or off reserve who receive provincial funding for the delivery of social services may be required to register with the college.


How do I apply to enter the Honours Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work Program?

If you are planning full-time on campus or full-time Online for the following September, you must apply through the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC).

Check the site for application deadlines. You can apply online at www.ouac.on.ca. This requires a credit card and is much faster than mail.

If you are planning part-time studies online, you may go directly to Laurentian Online to apply.


When does the program begin?

Fall start only

Ontario High School Applicants

Program Prerequisites:

  • 1 grade 12 English U/M course; 5 other grade 12 U/M courses
  • A minimum overall average of 70% in the 6 best grade 12 U/M courses

Admission to Indigenous Social Work is based upon overall admission requirements, and not solely on grade averages. In addition to meeting the requirements, applicants must:


Additional information for applicants who have completed Advanced Placement courses.

Additional information for applicants who have completed the International Baccalaureate.


Applicants from outside an Ontario High School 

International Students

Canadian High School Applicants from outside Ontario

Applicants from Colleges

Applicants from other Universities

Mature Students

Note pour les étudiants actuels

Les options de grade ci-dessous seront offertes lors de la prochaine année universitaire et ne le sont pas cette année. Si vous cherchez les cours à suivre afin de compléter les options d'un programme d'une année universitaire antérieure, svp consultez avec un conseiller académique.

BSW Indigenous Social Work  (ALSO OFFERED ONLINE)

Students must follow these regulations in order to meet graduation requirements.

(120 credits)


Program of Study

First Year

ISWK 1006E     Introduction to Indigenous Social Welfare*
ISWK 1007E     Introduction to Indigenous Social Welfare and Social Work and Practice*
PSYC 1105E     Introduction to Psychology
SOCI 1015E     Understanding Society
12 Credit Electives in Arts

Second Year

ISWK 2006E     Indigenous Social Welfare Issues*
ISWK 2007E     Applied Indigenous Social Work Issues*
ISWK 2315E     The Helping Relationship in Indigenous Social Work*
18 Credit Electives in Arts

Third Year

ISWK 3305E     Indigenous Theories and Perspectives in Social Work Practice I*
ISWK 3555E     Indigenous Social Work Research Methodologies
ISWK 3605E     Field Instruction I
12 Credit Electives in Arts 

Fourth Year

ISWK 4216E     Programs and Issues in Indigenous Social Work Practice
ISWK 4256E     Cultural Specific Helping with Indigenous Peoples
ISWK 4305E     Indigenous Theories and Perspectives for Social Work Practice II*
ISWK 4507E     Indigenous Social Work: Groups and Families
ISWK 4517E     Management and Administration in Indigenous Social Work
ISWK 4605E     Field Instruction II

And Year 4 ISWK Electives: Any 2 (3 cr) total of 6 credits

     ISWK 4406E     Colonizing/Decolonizing Issues of Violence in Indigenous Communities
     ISWK 4416E     Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking in Indigenous Social Work Practice
     ISWK 4426E     Mental Health Policy and Services – The Indigenous Context
     ISWK 4436E     Addressing Grief and Loss in Indigenous Social Work Practice


* minimum grade of B is required

Student cannot retain more than 48 first year credits in order to graduate.

Students can use the following plan of study to help them navigate the program.


Academic Regulations

To be in good academic standing, the student must:

  • satisfy all conditions of admission
  • achieve a minimum grade of B in ISWK 1006/1007 & 2006/2007 and ISWK 2315, 3305 & 4305
  • achieve a satisfactory grade in both ISWK 3605 & 4605
  • maintain a minimum grade of B in upper-year ISWK courses (including the research course)
  • complete all ISWK courses, after no more than two attemps at any course
  • have an overall average of at least 3.5 on all courses taken in the previous year or in the previous 30 consecutive credits, with no failures in any course attempts

A student who fails to attain academic standing may be allowed to continue in the program on probation by petition to the Committee on Academic Regulations and Awards with a positive recommendation from the program coordinator, for no more than one year (or 30 credits). A student who does not meet minimum grade requirements must include the specified course in their program in the probationary year. If, after one probationary period, the student fails to attain good academic standing, he or she must withdraw from the program.

Students required to withdraw may transfer to another program with the permission of the dean of the faculty and the chair of the department (or director of the school) of the new program. If a student is required to withdraw and not permitted to transfer to another program, he or she must also withdraw from the university.


To graduate, the student must:

  • achieve a minimum grade of B in ISWK 1006/1007 & 2006/2007 and ISWK 2315, 3305 & 4305
  • achieve a satisfactory grade in both ISWK 3605 & 4605
  • complete all ISWK courses, after no more than two attemps at any course
  • complete all courses presented for the degree with an overall GPA of 3.5 (60%); (only courses completed at Laurentian University are included in the calculation of averages)
  • Students who graduate with a minimum overall GPA of 5.5 (70%) on all courses presented for the degree, receive the Honours designation.


The School of Indigenous Relations has two programs: Indigenous Social Work Program (ISWK) and Master of Indigenous Relations (MIRE). The School was previously called "The School of Native Human Services" and the ISWK was previously NWLF/NSWK. The new titles and course codes do not change your degree or the courses.


PSYC-1105EL - Introduction to Psychology SOCI-1015EL - Understanding Society ISWK-1006EL - Introduction to Indigenous Social Welfare ISWK-1007EL - Introduction to Indigenous Social Welfare and Social Work Practice ISWK-2006EL - Indigenous Social Welfare Issues ISWK-2007EL - Applied Indigenous Social Work Issues ISWK-2315EL - The Helping Relationship in Indigenous Social Work ISWK-3305EL - Indigenous Theories and Perspectives in Social Work Practice I ISWK-3555EL - Indigenous Social Work Research Methodologies ISWK-3605EL - Field Instruction I
ISWK-4216EL - Programs and Issues in Indigenous Social Work Practice ISWK-4256EL - Cultural Specific Helping With Indigenous People ISWK-4305EL - Indigenous Theories and Perspectives for Social Work Practice II ISWK-4406EL - Colonizing/Decolonizing Issues of Violence in Indigenous Communities ISWK-4416EL - Conflict Resolution and Peace-Making in Indigenous Social Work Practice ISWK-4426EL - Mental Health Policy and Services - the Indigenous Context ISWK-4436EL - Addressing Grief and Loss in Indigenous Social Work Practice ISWK-4507EL - Indigenous Social Work: Groups and Families ISWK-4517EL - Management and Administration in Indigenous Social Work ISWK-4605EL - Field Instruction II

Liste des membres du corps professoral

Full-Time Faculty:

Dr. Taima Moeke-Pickering, Interim Director, Associate Professor, tmoekepickering@laurentian.ca

Dr. Joey-Lynn Wabie, Associate Professor, jl_wabie@laurentian.ca 

Nicole Wemigwans, Assistant Professor, nwemigwans@laurentian.ca

Adria Kurchina-Tyson, Assistant Professor, akurchinatyson@laurentian.ca 

Dr. Daniel Cote; Assistant Professor dcote@laurentian.ca

Sharlene Webkamigad, Tenure Professor swebkamigad@laurentian.ca

Limited Terms:

Paula Pelletier, Lecturer, ppelletier@laurentian.ca

Taryn Michel, Lecturer, tmichel2@laurentian.ca


Administrative Assistant 

Tanya Menard, tmenard@laurentian.ca


Field Education Office - Field Coordinators

Sheri Cecchetto or Monique Levesque, sirfield@laurentian.ca

Phone Number: (705) 675-1151 ext. 5028 or 5055

Office: Arts Building, A-302A


Sessional Instructors:

Sherri Baker, sbaker@laurentian.ca

Cynthia Belfitt; CX_Belfitt@laurentian.ca

Arlene Johnson; ajohnson@laurentian.ca 

Frankie Misner; FX_Misner@laurentian.ca

Marcie Romenco, mromenco@laurentian.ca

Robyn Rowe, RRowe@laurentian.ca

Cheryle Partridge, cpartridge@laurentian.ca

Sheri Cecchetto, sx_cecchetto@laurentian.ca

Kevin Fitzmaurice, kfitzmaurice@laurentian.ca

Michelle Kennedy, mz_kennedy@laurentian.ca

Rena Daviau, rdaviau@laurentian.ca

Daniel Côté

Daniel Côté

École des relations autochtones
Joey-Lynn Wabie

Joey-Lynn Wabie

École des relations autochtones
Sharlene Webkamigad

Sharlene Webkamigad

École des relations autochtones
Taryn Michel

Taryn Michel

École des relations autochtones
Taima Moeke-Pickering

Taima Moeke-Pickering

École des relations autochtones
Adria Kurchina-Tyson

Adria Kurchina-Tyson

École des relations autochtones
Paula Pelletier

Paula Pelletier

École des relations autochtones
Nicole Wemigwans

Nicole Wemigwans

École des relations autochtones