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Indigenous Social Work

Work more effectively with First Nations peoples by learning about Anishnaabe traditional teachings, and Indigenous social work theories, and practices.

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

Program requires two field education placements  totalling 700 hours. The students in the Indigenous Social Work discipline will develop and increase their knowledge and skills to work with First Nations peoples and all communities that utilize a helping service.

Indigenous Social Work Program has limited enrollment.

Academic Advisor

Dan Cote, Director

Telephone: 705.675.1151 Ext. 5081


Office: Tanya Menard, Administrative Assistant
705.675.1151 EXt. 5082

Sheri Cecchetto, Field Coordinator
705.675-1151 Ext. 5028

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Delivery Method: On campus/Online
Program Language: English

Interesting Facts:

  • The program prepares students for the provincial social work registration and license (OCSWSSW)

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

  • The program is offered through the Laurentian Online on a full-time and part-time basis from September to April only. Spring term we offer only ISWK 1006, ISWK 1007 and ISWK 3605, ISWK 4605.

  • Indigenous faculty and staff 

Program Highlights:

  • The four-year program leads to an Honours Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work

  • Students gain a comprehensive understanding of social work practice


Indigenous Social Work Journal (CALJ Endorsed)

Published by the School of Indigenous Relations - Indigenous Social Work Journal, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario. (Please note that this Journal was formerly called the "Native Social Work Journal").

The Indigenous Social Work Journal is registered with the Canadian Association of Learned Journals. Cover artwork by Leland Bell.

Volumes 1 - 10 of the Indigenous Social Work Journal can be found on the LUL Zone website


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 chose 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 Lauentian 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 past 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 enrol 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 the Laurentian Online, the students are able to 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 This requires a credit card and is much faster than mail.


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


When does the program begin?

You can either start the program in the spring or fall. These are the only two times to begin. However, it is recommended for new students to start in the fall for the academic year which runs from September to April. Spring session runs for only 11 weeks and therefore courses that normally run for 8 months are condensed into 11 weeks and are intense. The decision is always up to the student.

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

Ontario High School Applicants

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


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

For Current Students

The degree options listed below are for the upcoming academic year, not the current academic year. If you are a current student looking for which courses to take in order to complete your degree options from a previous academic year's curriculum, please consult with an academic advisor.

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.


Minor in Indigenous Healing and Wellness  (ALSO OFFERED ONLINE)
    ISWK 1006/1007 - Indigenous Social Welfare (6 cr)
    INDG 1116/1117 - Foundations/Implications of  Aboriginal Peoplehood  (6 cr)
    INDG 2285/RLST 2285EL - North American Native People: Tradition and Culture (6 cr)
    INDG 3256EL – Aboriginal Health and Wellness (3 cr)
    ISWK 2315EL The Helping Relationship in Indigenous Social Work
    ISWK 4256 - Cultural Specific Helping with Indigenous People



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.


ISWK-1006EL - Introduction to Indigenous Social Welfare ISWK-1007EL - Introduction to Indigenous Social Welfare and Social Work Practice PSYC-1105EL - Introduction to Psychology SOCI-1015EL - Understanding Society 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

List of Faculty Members

Revised under Faculty Members on Actual Website


Full Time Faculty:

Dr. Daniel Cote; Assistant Professor, Director

Dr. Laura Hall: Assistant Professor;

Susan Manitowabi; Assistant Professor,

Dr. Taima Moeke-Pickering, Associate Professor,

Dr. Joey-Lynn Wabie, Assistant Professor,


Field Coordinator: Field Education

Sheri Cecchetto,

Ph # 1-705-675-1151 Ext. 5028

Office Room # Arts Bldg A-301A


Sessional Instructors:

Sherri Baker,

Cynthia Belfitt;

Gord Bruyere,

Shelly Moore-Frappier,

Arlene Johnson; 

Louise Jones:

Frankie Misner;

Marcie Romenco,

Robyn Rowe;

Cheryle Partridge,



Daniel Côté

Daniel Côté

School of Indigenous Relations
Laura Hall

Laura Hall

School of Indigenous Relations
Susan Manitowabi

Susan Manitowabi

Office of Academic and Indigenous Programs
Taima Moeke-Pickering

Taima Moeke-Pickering

School of Indigenous Relations
Joey-Lynn Wabie

Joey-Lynn Wabie

School of Indigenous Relations