A time to listen

June 30 marks the end of National Indigenous History Month. In 2021 this date became A Day To Listen, an event where radio stations and broadcasters across the country united for a full day of programming dedicated to amplifying and elevating Indigenous voices and perspectives. Interviews from this event have been archived online for later listening, and there is hope that this may become a recurring or even annual celebration.

Hopefully the listening and learning that this day can bring will inspire us – individually and collectively – to ensure that the long weekend that it ushers yields insight, reflection and a shift toward reconciliation and justice.

The NSCSW encourages social workers across Nova Scotia to take time today to listen, learn, and reflect on ways that we can all work toward implementing the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and those of Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Given the unique role that social workers have played in perpetuating violence toward Indigenous communities, we collectively bear a responsibility to work toward this pressing goal. We recognize that the profession of social work has itself been complicit in these harms. Our College has committed to dismantling structures that impede the full, equal, and just participation of Indigenous peoples in all aspects of economic, social, cultural, and political life.

Acknowledging the truth is hard, but the work of reconciliation is harder. Because we are embedded in colonial systems that perpetuate racism and discrimination, this work will also require each of us to reflect on the ways in which we have absorbed unconscious messages and biases.

May each of us take time today to listen to the stories, voices, perspectives and insights of the Indigenous people of Canada, particularly the Mi’kmaq. Their inherent rights to Mi’kma’ki, their ancestral and unceded territory, were recognized in the Peace and Friendship Treaties which Mi’kmaq, Wəlastəkwiyik, and Passamaquoddy peoples signed with the British Crown from 1725 to 1779. This series of treaties did not surrender Indigenous land, resources or sovereignty to the British Empire, but instead established rules for an ongoing relationship between multiple nations. The treaties were later reaffirmed by Canada in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and remain active to this day. The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers joins our members and our communities in the necessary labour of reconciliation, and we are grateful to live and work together as treaty people in Mi’kma’ki.

On July 1, let us reflect upon the treaties that enable us to live here, on Turtle Island. This weekend, and every day, let us listen, learn and do what we can to honour these treaties and the people whose lands we live within.

Learning about the changes to professional development

Social workers in Nova Scotia are self-regulated. This privilege of self-regulation comes with a mandate that our regulation shall ensure the safety and well-being of the public.

Last summer, a committee of hard-working social workers, serving on the ad-hoc professional development standards working group, put together a proposal to transform our professional development standards. These changes were approved by Council in November 2021 and took effect in January 2022.

We will continue to host regular lunch and learn events to give members opportunities to learn about these new standards and ask questions. Our next two sessions will be held on July 6 and August 10 at noon over Zoom. We look forward to meeting with our members and receiving your feedback on how to continue to improve our professional development activities.

Once you’ve learned about the changes you can make a plan to meet your learning goals in time for your annual registration renewal. We regularly offer free and low-cost webinars and workshops for our members; recordings of many of them are on our suggested activities page, and members can subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter to learn about new ones as soon as they are offered. Please also check in with your friends and colleagues who are social workers, to make sure they are aware of these changes, and encourage them to reach out to us if they have questions.

The newly passed professional development changes are intended to promote the professional competency of registrants, in light of new recommendations by the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network and evolving research regarding best practices related to professional development. Furthermore, they are grounded in our professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, and are aligned with CASWE-accredited social work curricula.

These changes were also informed by the current context of our profession in Nova Scotia, taking into consideration recurring patterns in complaints received by the College, our obligations to reflect and respond to inquiries and reports such as the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and communication received from our members.

Registered Social Workers and Social Worker Candidates are encouraged to seek opportunities and activities that integrate their professional development goals with contributing to the field of social work, serving the public interest, improving social conditions, and promoting social justice and quality of life for all Nova Scotians

Given the importance of professional development to ensure ethical and competent social work practice, each social worker also has the responsibility to keep track of their own personal professional development activities. We have an auditing process that includes examining randomly selected professional development records to ensure documentation accuracy, and to support evaluation of the College’s professional development policy itself. Therefore it is crucial that members maintain their own personal records of professional development for at least three years, in addition to what they submit to the College during annual registration renewal, in case of any discrepancy.

This coming summer, another group of hard-working social workers will once come together, this time to improve the College’s existing policy and process for auditing professional development. If you would like to be part of this work, please contact [email protected] to volunteer or to share any comments or questions you may have.

Interim restrictions: Philip Patey

Member: Philip Patey, #2335
Decision Date: June 16, 2022

Pursuant to section 29(5) of the Social Workers Act, the NSCSW Complaints Committee determined that it is in the public interest to impose the following interim restriction on the registration of Philip Patey:

  1. Philip Patey shall not provide social work services to any individual 24 years of age or younger. 

The Complaints Committee has not yet completed its investigation. There are currently no findings against Philip Patey. 

The interim restriction shall remain in effect until lifted, suspended, varied, or annulled by a regulatory committee of the College.

Celebrating 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride in Nova Scotia

Around the world, the month of June has long been designated 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride Month, in honour of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The uprising began as a response to a police raid in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, and continued through the summer months. 

Since then, many places across the world have developed their own Pride events, sometimes in commemoration of local events that have contributed to the growing advocacy accomplishments of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Here in Nova Scotia, some local communities have already begun their pride celebrations, though others plan them later in summer or even fall.

Like many other officially designated days of commemoration or celebration, such events ought not be tokenizing, but rather provide opportunities to gather, share and grow in strength, solidarity and advocacy together. We take a moment to build momentum that we can sustain throughout the rest of the year.—

The need to gather with one’s community and celebrate is an important form of self-care, and for those amongst us with intersectional and oppressed identities, it is a crucial opportunity to recharge, as well as publicly advocate for a world where every day is filled with pride, justice, equity and safety and a growing number of allies who understand that our collective well-being depends upon everyone’s individual well-being. This is the reason why the NSCSW continues to advocate for our social policy framework, created in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS).

As we come together to celebrate Pride Month here in Nova Scotia, we should also reflect on how much there is not to celebrate. 

Homophobia, transphobia and other forms of prejudice and intolerance appear to be growing, not receding. Despite a growing population and growing need, Pride Health did not receive additional funding in the last budget. And sadly, the issue of prioritizing and streamlining gender affirming care remains problematic in Nova Scotia, despite clear and compelling evidence that every delay causes harm. 

As part of our larger advocacy efforts, we have joined our voices to advocate for a number of issues related to the health and well-being of Nova Scotians, including the continued pathologizing of gender-diverse individuals.

One example of the intersectionality of queer justice is how closely it can be aligned with the urgent need to decolonize. The Two-Spirit umbrella term was created in 1990 to encompass many nation-specific identities and roles that colonial societies had suppressed because these ways of being did not align with the strict binary gender roles preferred by their cultures of origin. Reclaiming Power and Place, the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, included reflection on these diverse gender norms in Indigenous nations across Turtle Island, the lived experiences of Indigenous 2SLGBTQIA+ people, and horrific examples of how Canada’s colonization has violently targeted Indigenous gender and sexuality.

These bittersweet realities speak to a much larger issue related to Pride celebrations, and indeed, any celebrations for specific communities and identities: the injustice that is continues to exist within the systems where we all live and work. But we celebrate nevertheless, and as we do, remind ourselves that it is possible to achieve civil rights. We celebrate what has been accomplished thus far, we seek to inspire hope within ourselves and our communities, and we recommit ourselves to striving for queer justice, and for justice for all people. We hope you will join us in working towards a more just world.

Join the celebrations

Please join us on July 18 for Queer 101, a virtual lunch and learn designed for social workers and allied health professionals. This session is intended as a safe space to ask questions and learn about how to work with 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals and their families. 

Community events also include many opportunities for learning and advocacy, so we encourage you to look for Pride celebrations in your region. Here is a partial list of festival dates across the province: 

Lunch & Learn: Queer 101

Award Nominations Open: Recognize Outstanding Members of our Community

Many members of our professional community have demonstrated considerable dedication, innovation and generosity during the last year.

Here’s one way for you to recognize your colleagues for their service. We’re seeking nominations for the following awards, which will be presented at our autumn gala:

  • Ron Stratford Memorial Award
    • community leaders who are not social workers may be nominated for this award
  • Social Justice Ally Award
    • community leaders who are not social workers may be nominated for this award
  • Diane Kays Memorial Award
  • David Connor Williams Memorial Award
  • Freda Vickery Award

» Read the award criteria

Questions? Contact N Siritsky at [email protected].

To submit your nomination for one of NSCSW’s awards, complete the form below, no later than August 31, 2022.

Be part of the College’s Board of Examiners

The College’s Council is looking for a member to appoint to the Board of Examiners. The Board of Examiners (BOE) oversees the application of regulatory policy, approves social work applicants, and makes all decision regarding the complaints and discipline matters brought before the College.

We’re looking for members who:

  • are in good standing with the College;
  • have a firm grasp of the social work values, Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice; and
  • are seeking a social work leadership role.

There is a particular need for members from equity-seeking groups.

The BOE meets for two hours typically the third Thursday of every month. BOE members have the option to sit on the complaints or discipline committees, which would require an additional time commitment. Members who volunteer on the BOE can include these hours of service in their annual inventory of professional development activities.

Interested? Please send your letter of intent and current CV to the College’s Registrar/Executive Director Alec Stratford [email protected] by July 31, 2022.

Survey for child welfare policy paper

Do you have past experience with the Nova Scotia child welfare system?


We are collaborating with Wisdom2Action to develop a policy paper on the improvements needed for Nova Scotia’s child welfare system. They have created two surveys, for:

  1. individuals and organizations with experience and knowledge working with Nova Scotia’s child welfare systems and policy
  2. former youth in care, family members, and caregivers (not intended to be completed by youth who are currently in this system)

The deadline for responses is June 30, 2022. Learn more: bit.ly/3nUkdJx

These surveys are a follow-up to focus groups held in April 2022, and are intended to collect more information on the strengths, gaps and needs within the child welfare system. The combined insights from the focus groups and the survey will be used to draft a policy paper responding to the following two questions:

  1. What would it take for every child in Nova Scotia to live in a home and a community free of poverty, violence and harm, that allowed them to reach their full potential?
  2. What would it take to create a child protection system that embraced the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the calls from the Black and Indigenous Nova Scotians for reform as enshrined in Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in the inquiry into the Home for Coloured Children?

Lunch & learn: New professional development requirements

Interim restrictions: Sherri Boyd

Member: Sherri Boyd, #7501
Date: May 14, 2022

Pursuant to section 29(5) of the Social Workers Act, the NSCSW Complaints Committee imposed the following interim restrictions on the registration of Sherri Boyd:

  1. Sherri Boyd shall not provide social work services to any individual 24 years of age or younger; and
  1. Sherri Boyd’s social work practice shall be subject to supervision.

This is an interim decision. There are currently no findings against Sherri Boyd. 

The interim restrictions shall remain in effect until lifted, suspended, varied, or annulled by a regulatory committee of the College.

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