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Nunavut Arctic College announces new degree program in social work

This fall, graduates of the NAC’s two-year diploma in social service work will be able to apply to be in the first cohort of the school's new bachelor of social work program.

Program is in partnership with Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador

Nunavut Arctic College will be offering a first bachelor of social work degree this fall, in partnership with Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. (RADIO-CANADA / MATISSE HARVEY)

Nunavut Arctic College is now offering a degree program in social work, the university announced June 21.

The program is in partnership with Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, which entered a 10-year agreement with the college in 2019 to help the college expand its services. 

The college currently offers a two-year diploma in social service work. This fall, graduates of that program can apply to be in the first cohort of the bachelor of social work program, which will be offered over an additional two years in Cambridge Bay. 

The Government of Nunavut has also committed $1.8 million over three years for the delivery of the program, the college said.

Fiona Buchan-Corey is the dean of health and wellness programs at the college. 

She said the bachelor of social work program is a step towards improving social work services for communities in Nunavut, which is important given the history and impact of residential schools in the territory. 

"People who have gone through the residential school system suffer the after-effects [and have] gone through life challenges," Buchan-Corey said. "Now we're seeing Inuit grow these new skills, become passionate about caring for their communities, providing services and giving back."

All the professors teaching in the program will be from Memorial University, but will work with local community members to ensure Nunavut-specific cultural elements are a part of the program, she added. 

Vanessa Totalik and her daughter Angela Dawn. Her daughter is one of the reasons she took to a career in social work, she says. (Submitted by Vanessa Totalik)

Vanessa Totalik graduated from the social service worker diploma program earlier this month. She has already applied for the bachelor of social work program, and said she hopes to use the degree to become a regional manager.

As a summer student at the Department of Family Services, Totalik said she chose the field of social work because she wants to help children in the territory cope with intergenerational trauma. 

"[Children] are our next leaders," she said. 

With files from Matisse Harvey

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