Master of Social Work in Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency
University of Toronto
The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto has launched an important new field in partnership with the Middelton-Moz Institute and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC). The Master of Social Work in Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency (ITR) was created when the OFIFC and the Middelton-Moz Institute approached the Faculty, suggesting a unique collaboration to develop capacity in indigenous communities.
As the first of its kind in North America, this two-year Master’s program is dedicated to preparing advanced social work professionals to work with individuals, families and communities who have been affected by historical and generational trauma. It focuses on theoretical knowledge, personal development and skill-building through face-to-face week-long courses, online distance learning and field placements.
Grounded in the North American Indigenous values of belonging, cooperation, respect and kindness, and inspired by indigenous traditions from around the globe, the ITR emphasizes at all times the strong connection between personal, cultural, professional, and academic development, and the importance of building on existing strength and resilience.
BRIDGING THE RIVER
“The ITR represents what a Native American Elder taught me was ‘bridging the river.’ On one side is science — everything we’re learning about attachment, trauma and resilience and the latest neuroscience research. On the other the healing traditions of indigenous people: Native American, First Nations, Tibetan, African and Irish among others that have worked for hundreds of years. We are bridging the river between cultures, between youth and adults and between communities. When you bridge the river, you have a powerful dynamic to create real change.”
Executive Director, Middelton-Moz Institute
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
WHY IS THIS FIELD IMPORTANT?
There is an urgent need to create a space that focuses on resilience and historical knowledge when educating trauma-informed social workers. Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings, the ITR is following a unique approach that draws on both traditional wisdom and practice and the very latest scientific knowledge, equipping graduates with the ability to work with
individuals, families and communities in a culturally appropriate manner. Employing interventions designed to aid
communities experiencing high levels of intergenerational trauma, graduates will thereby increase support systems
and be able to assist individuals in finding their voice.
WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE?
The ITR is unique for several reasons. First, it was created in partnership between a Faculty of social work known for its emphasis on integrating research with practice and two highly respected community organizations whose combined expertise in community intervention and culture-based program delivery are crucial to equipping traumainformed graduates to work in mental health and social services. Second, it offers students a curriculum that combines the Faculty’s evidence-based practice with healing and ceremony drawn from global indigenous traditions. Third, the learning format means that students are not required to leave their communities for an extended period to complete their degree, which is often a barrier to education. Courses are a hybrid between online components and in-class components, as well as practicum placements that take place in a student’s own community.
Perhaps most significantly, students accepted into the ITR are expected to work with faculty to develop their own wellness plans, which are regularly re-visited. This ensures an awareness of the influence of multigenerational trauma in their own lives and increases their understanding — a critical component in their ability to effectively work with others, focus on resilience and create solutions.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT?
The Master of Social Work in Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency is creating a unique space to prepare trauma-informed
social workers who work with Indigenous communities in Canada and around the world. The groundbreaking curriculum focuses on training for direct practice in social work. Although this is a new field, the first students are already reporting a rise in self-confidence and increased optimism.
Graduates of this field will gain skills to provide culturally appropriate services to global indigenous communities, and will learn to identify the effects of trauma, abuse, war and violence in society more generally, thanks to the community wisdom and traditions that form the basis of this partnership.
With their new knowledge, training and self-awareness, these social work professionals will have a lasting impact on our world, becoming community activists and leaders who focus on strength, wellness and resilience wherever they practice.
ABOUT THE PARTNERS
The Middelton-Moz Institute addresses the effects of current, cumulative, generational and historical cultural trauma with individuals, families and communities. With 44 years of experience as a clinician and author, Jane Middelton-Moz has turned her focus in recent years to delivering community intervention as it is proving to be the most effective for working with people and communities struggling with tremendous grief and loss, impacts of historical and generational trauma, and high drop out rates. She speaks of the need to focus on strength-based approaches to trauma-informed work in schools and communities and increasing recognition of resiliency.
The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) is an internationally respected non-government organization based in Toronto. It serves member Indigenous Friendship Centres in Ontario through advocacy, research, training, social economics and program management, and has a large training component for front-line workers and a strong emphasis on culture-based training and program development experience.
The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto is the top-ranked social work Faculty in Canada
and one of the top five in North America. It is distinguished by its emphasis on the integration of research and practice in both the classroom and practicum education, providing students with the knowledge and skills to work effectively with others in a complex and ever changing world.
1. Candidates for admission to the ITR Field of Study require an appropriate bachelor’s degree from a recognized university, and shall have achieved at least a mid-B or better in the final year of full-time study or equivalent, in senior level courses (300 or 400 level).
Note: According to the School of Graduate Studies Calendar, section 5.1, “an appropriate bachelor’s degree that has appropriate breadth, depth and, where appropriate, an affinity to the graduate program to which the applicant is seeking admission as determined by the School of Graduate Studies”.
2. All applicants must have completed satisfactorily at least three full courses, or their equivalent, in the social sciences, to include a half-credit course in research methodology, preferably in the social sciences. A grade less than mid-B in the required half-credit course in research methodology will lessen the applicant’s probability of admission.
3. Candidates must have at least three years of work experience in the social service/Indigenous services sector.
4. As part of the application process, applicants may be asked to participate in an in-person or Skype interview.
5. Candidates must show evidence of facility in the English language. If your primary language is not English and you graduated from a non-Canadian university where the language of instruction and examination was not English, then you must demonstrate your facility in English by completing one of the tests listed below:
TOEFL Paper-Based Test Score of 580 and TWE Score of 5
Internet–based TOEFL Test Score of 22/30 for both the Writing and Speaking Sections, with an overall TOEFL Score of 93/120
ELTS Minimum required score: 7.0 (Academic) with at least 6.5 for each component
MELAB Score of 85
The Certificate of Proficiency in English (COPE) – Required score: 76 (with at least 22 in each component and 32 in the writing component)
International ESL Program, School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto Required score: a final grade of B in Level 60
For information about admissions requirements and application deadlines, visit: