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Sault College, Laurentian University sign Indigenous social work agreement

Sault College grads now able to complete Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work at Laurentian University faster thanks to new two-plus-two agreement
Sault College Vice President Academic and Research Colin Kirkwood, left, was joined by Shelly Moore-Frappier, interim associate vice-president academic and Indigenous programs for Laurentian University, to sign off on an agreement that will allow Indigenous social work students at Sault College to complete a Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work at Laurentian University in an additional two years. James Hopkin/SooToday

Sault College and Laurentian University have officially inked an academic agreement that will allow eligible graduates of the college’s two-year Social Service - Indigenous Specialization program to earn a Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work from Laurentian University with just two additional years of post-secondary education. 

Representatives of both institutions were on hand at Sault College Thursday to make the announcement. 

“The students in our social service worker Indigenous specialization program can transfer, after completing two years here at Sault College, and complete a degree in two years of further study at Laurentian, which is really a great opportunity for our students,” said Colin Kirkwood, vice-president academic and research for Sault College. “The unique feature of this opportunity is that here at Sault College, we provide practical, hands-on learning, and the students can then complement that with the theoretical learning that takes place in a university.”

Indigenous studies and academic upgrading dean Carolyn Hepburn says the new pathway agreement is a significant milestone for Sault College and its Indigenous social work students.  

“I think it’s incredibly exciting,” Hepburn told SooToday. “It’s an amazing opportunity for our Indigenous communities to advance higher education. Normally to get a diploma and a four-year degree, that’s six years. We’ve reduced that time now to four years.”

In order to transfer into year three of Laurentian’s Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work program, Sault College students must complete their Social Service - Indigenous Specialization diploma with a minimum of a 3.0-grade point average.  

Shelly Moore-Frappier, interim associate vice-president of academic and Indigenous programs at Laurentian University, says students coming out of Sault College will be able to pursue their Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work either by completing the courses on campus full-time, or online in a part-time capacity. 

“This is about two communities coming together to share their knowledge, and the depth of the knowledge of the Anishinaabe from both of these communities, from both Baawating (Sault Ste. Marie) and N’Swakamok (Sudbury),” she said. “I think that the intention of this agreement is student-centred.”

“We want to create that space where we’re transitioning students, and that was the whole focus [of] doing this work.”

Hepburn says there’s a need “right across the board” for social workers who have completed Indigenous-specific social work programming.  

“We need social workers across the board, and I think with the uniqueness of Indigenous-specific programming, you get that culture and that Indigenous worldview threaded throughout the entire curriculum,” said Hepburn. “I think that we need more representation of social workers within our community who have those specialized skills, absolutely.” 

“I think this is going to fit a high need within our communities.”

More than 50 students are currently enrolled in the Social Service - Indigenous Specialization program at Sault College.

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James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday in Sault Ste. Marie
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