First Aboriginal Social Work students graduate from unique joint program

    TORONTO, June 15 /CNW/ - First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) and
Ryerson University recently graduated the inaugural 13 students of their joint
Bachelor of Social Work program. Launched in 2004, this unique advanced
standing program, accredited under the Canadian Association of Schools of
Social Work, combines mainstream social work theory and practices with an
Aboriginal world view.
    "I learned how to be a social worker, but I learned how to do it as an
aboriginal person," said graduate Bill Hill, a social worker at Regional
Mental Health Care London. "It was a wonderful opportunity that allowed me to
maintain full-time employment and apply my education to my work."
    The students enrolled in this program gain advanced standing based on
their previous certification in a community college program in social services
and their many years of practice experiences in social work settings and
agencies primarily in their Aboriginal communities.
    Courses were taught in intensive week-long sessions several times a year
in London, Ont. by Ryerson Social Work professors in collaboration with FNTI
Program Elder Jim Albert and other aboriginal teachers. "This is an incredible
group of students who have done extremely well," said Elder Albert. "We are
really proud of them because we know the effort they've had to put in to be
here today."
    The program consists of 13 core courses, including research, practice
courses and field placements in social service agencies. Areas of study
include law and justice, community-conflict resolution, coping with community
trauma, public administration and child sexual abuse.
    "This program serves a critical need in our communities," said
Karihwakeron Tim Thompson, FNTI President and Chief Administrative Officer.
"These graduates are already leaders. They'll help us deal with some of the
key issues affecting our communities and help us envision a positive future."
    Prior to their convocation, students took part in a smudging and drumming
ceremony conducted by Elder Albert in the Ryerson quad. The Wasauksing
Kinomaugewgamik drummers performed honour and healing songs in celebration of
the graduates.
    Akua Benjamin, Director of Ryerson's School of Social Work noted,
"Witnessing the graduands at convocation, filled me with pride and reinforced
Ryerson's and FNTI's mutual goal to support the educational advancement of
Aboriginal students in social work and in higher education. Graduates of this
program are both keen and committed to share their knowledge and expertise
within their communities and beyond."

    FNTI is an aboriginal, community-based organization located in Tyendinaga
Mohawk Territory, near Belleville, Ont. It has over 20 years experience in
working with Ontario's post-secondary educational institutions.

    Ryerson University is Canada's leader in career-focused education,
offering more than 95 PhD, master's, and undergraduate programs in the Faculty
of Arts; the Faculty of Communication & Design; the Faculty of Community
Services; the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Science; and the Ted
Rogers School of Management. Ryerson University has graduate and undergraduate
enrolment of 24,000 students. With more than 64,000 registrations annually,
The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading
provider of university-based adult education.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
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For further information:

For further information: Suelan Toye, Public Affairs, Ryerson
University, Tel: (416) 979-5000 ext. 7161, Email:

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