This conference was held in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW), entitled “Moving Forward: Pathways to ‘Culturally Competent’ Practice with People of African Descent”. It ran from September 25th-27th, 2014. The ABSW is a volunteer charitable organization which consists of Black Social Workers, Human Service Workers, and other helping professionals throughtout the province of Nova Scotia. Their key mission is to act as a support group and professional development resource for African Canadian workers.
It was important for me to participate so that I could interact with Social Workers already working in the field and gain a broader understanding of the spectrum of social work and all the needs/issues the profession addresses. I was also exposed to the challenges and barriers facing Black social workers, and other Black professionals.
I will use this conference, and my volunteer work in youth crime prevention, to continue the battle for social justice, social change, and equality for everyone.
The attendees included social workers, educators, and some health care workers. I really enjoyed the workshop discussions such as racism, justice, spirituallity, health, family preservation, child welfare, mental health and addictions, and intimate partner violence. I was impressed with the level of expertise, experience, knowledge, and quality of the presentations and Q&A sessions. The presenters were all excellent speakers.
I’ve learned that in some ways, people of African descent have made inroads in the battle against racism, discrimination, and inequality. However, much work still needs to be done to achieve an even playing field where skin color and cultural diversity are celebrated differences, not barriers used to oppress and separate people. I will use this conference, and my volunteer work in youth crime prevention, to continue the battle for social justice, social change, and equality for everyone.
The conference has reaffirmed my perspective that social inequality, racism, discrimination, and oppression are alive in Nova Scotia. Previously, a Dalhousie nursing student from Africa in his late 20’s told me he had not experienced racism until he came to Nova Scotia about 3 years ago. One of the conference attendees from Maryland, USA, had told us she hadn’t been aware that Canada had a history of enslavement.
I would highly recommend this, and similar conferences and experiences, to anyone and everyone interested in social justice, social change, cultural diversity training, and growing professionally and personally. I was able to network with people from different countries, backgrounds, experiences, education and cultures. Thank you for the opportunity to take part in this.
For more information: http://www.nsabsw.ca./