New graduate students engage in Indigenous ways of learning on retreat
The August full moon rose over students, Knowledge Holders, faculty and staff of the Master of Social Work Based in Indigenous Knowledges (MSW-IK) program during the 2018 Culture Camp. This past weekend, the third cohort of students in the MSW-IK program at the Faculty of Social Work embarked on their journey at the Windy Hill Learning Centre, located on Treaty 1 territory near Lake Winnipeg.
Throughout the culture camp, the new students were gifted with many teachings from Sherry Copenace, one of the two MSW-IK Knowledge Holders, and were able to engage in hands-on, holistic learning on the land. This five-day camp provided opportunities to connect with many teachings, including the cohort learning to build a sweatlodge and the protocols that go with that responsibility, as well as learning about traditional community child-rearing practices and the process of co-creating our own stories with nature. During the final evening, a Full Moon Ceremony was held by the sacred fire, which the students had kept lit for five days.
The MSW-IK program is unlike any other degree program in North America. Within this graduate-level program, equal weight is given to Knowledge Holders and academic instructors. Knowledge Holders are able to share Indigenous social work practices with the students throughout the year. Graduates of the MSW-IK program will be able to move in to the world of policy and administration and enact changes that centre Indigenous knowledges and ways of doing that have been in place since time immemorial.
It is truly humbling to be able to share space with these students, who each bring years of experience in the field and dedicated relationships within community. This was a wonderful start to our 2018-2019 school year! We will share individual research stories as the year progresses.