Social Work with Aboriginal People

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
SOWK 3250
Social Work with Aboriginal People
Social Work
Applied Community Studies
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
60 hours
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Discussion and group work
Guest speakers
Small group discussion
Traditional teaching ceremonies.

Course Description
This course will provide opportunities for social work students to develop their competence and understanding for working collaboratively with Aboriginal people. Students will explore Aboriginal approaches to healing, wellness and social work. An important theme of the course will be to understand Aboriginal worldviews and experiences in the context of the historical and continuing impact of oppression and colonialism.
Course Content

Course content will be guided by research, empirical knowledge and best practice. The following values and principles, consistent with professional standards, inform course content.

  • Working with Aboriginal people requires understanding of and sensitivity toward the historical impact of oppression and colonization.
  • The legacy of colonial policies, legislation and the residential school system continue to impact Aboriginal people.
  • While there are many shared values and customs among Aboriginal peoples, there are many diverse Aboriginal groups each of which has its own unique identity and culture; moreover, there is diversity within groups
  • Social workers need to ensure that respect for Aboriginal values and practices is evident in their work
  • Social workers need to ensure their work is respectful of the diversity of Aboriginal peoples.
  • Celebration of the knowledge and wisdom of Aboriginal peoples is central to empowerment.
  • Effective support and collaboration with Aboriginal people honours Aboriginal peoples/ self-determination and their inherent strengths to solve their own problems.
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to: 

1. Analyze the history and current situation of Aboriginal people in British Columbia

  • Describe the impact of oppression, racism, and colonization,
  • Describe the impact of the residential schools, “the 60’s scoop,” and the child welfare system,
  • Describe how past and current legislation has affected Aboriginal people,
  • Identify structural barriers and social determinants of health,
  • Discuss social problems and issues (e.g., addiction, child welfare, mental health/suicide, poverty, criminal justice system over representation, barriers to education);

2. Articulate understanding of the rich strengths, resilience, and diversity of Aboriginal communities;

3. Discuss strategies for collaboration with Aboriginal communities

  • Discuss how non-Aboriginal people can work respectfully with Aboriginal people as allies,
  • Identify the shared values of the social work profession and Aboriginal communities,
  • Demonstrate openness to learning from Aboriginal people and communities;

4. Describe how social work methodologies can be utilized, adapted, or indigenized when working with Aboriginal people;

5. Describe Aboriginal approaches to healing and wellness including spiritual practices and medicines used for wellness;

6. Demonstrate self-awareness of personal strengths, areas of growth, and the influence of their own lived experience including issues such as power, privilege, worldview.

Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of assessment may include some or all of the following:

  • Written papers
  • Exams
  • Presentations (individual or group).


Textbook Materials

Text(s) such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:

Gray, L. (2011). First Nations 101. Vancouver: Adaax Publishing.
Frideres, J., & Rene, R. (2012). Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Contemporary conflicts (9th ed.). Toronto: Pearson.








Which Prerequisite