March 7, 2023

Online research symposium examines critical social issues

Faculty of Social Work online symposium focuses on gender-based violence and Indigenous conversations
Social work research symposium illustration
The Faculty of Social Work's annual research symposium runs over two weeks this March. Illustration from Adobe Stock

A Focus on Gender-Based Violence: March 7 - 8

Domestic violence was called the epidemic within the epidemic, and according to Lana Wells, MSW, RSW, the COVID-19 pandemic will have many lasting impacts.

“Research has shown that COVID and related structural stressors have increased the prevalence, as well as the severity of the violence,” says Wells, the leader of SHIFT: The Project to End Domestic Violence in the Faculty of Social Work.

“In my keynote, I’ll dig into what we understand happened during the pandemic, and why certain populations are experiencing higher rates of violence, and what we can do about it from a policy perspective.” 

Portrait of Lana Wells wearing a black top and standing against a pink background

Faculty of Social Work Associate Professor Lana Wells

Courtesy Lana Wells

Wells, who is recognized as a national and international thought leader in the prevention of domestic violence, will provide a keynote address on March 8 at 9 a.m. as part of the Faculty of Social Work’s annual research symposium.

Wells was part of a national working group informing Canada’s national action plan to end gender-based violence. She also led the design of a new playbook for preventing the perpetration of domestic and sexual violence in Alberta.

The symposium examines gender-based violence (GBV) in a variety of contexts, with research from a variety of thought leaders. Topics include:

  • GBV in racialized communities
  • GBV prevention research
  • Innovations in GBV intervention research with young people

Indigenous Conversations Focus on Bill C-92 and Family Well-Being: March 14 - 15

The second week of the unique symposium features a series of compelling Indigenous conversations.

For example, last November, Dr. Caroline Tait, PhD, was one of only two people to attend the public hearing for the death of Curtis McKenzie, who died by suicide in prison. The medical anthropologist, who recently joined the Faculty of Social Work and the Cumming School of Medicine, says she felt compelled to “counter the narrative that he was at fault for his own death.

“That’s what I mean by bearing witness,” says Tait.

I really believe that, as a social scientist, there is a utility in me being there to report to the Indigenous community. Not to the government. Not to correction services. But to Indigenous leaders.

Mary Teegee, president of the British Columbia Aboriginal Child Care Society, leads a discussion on sovereignty, jurisdiction and Bill C-92, a long-awaited federal legislation that recognizes Indigenous People’s jurisdiction over child and family services. The Sovereignty in Child and Family Research, Jurisdiction and Bill C-92 panel (March 14, 6:15 p.m.) includes esteemed Indigenous colleagues, leaders and scholars.

There will also be a discussion circle on research related to Indigenous families’ well-being (March 15, 9 a.m.), facilitated by Dr. Michael Hart, PhD, University of Calgary vice-provost of Indigenous engagement.

Research that promotes change, mobilizes research into practice and enhances social justice

David Nicholas, PhD, RSW, the Faculty of Social Work’s associate dean of research and partnerships, says the symposium provides a valuable learning opportunity for social workers, students, academics and other professionals across the province interested in gender-based violence, or looking for an Indigenous perspective on important, current issues.

“Our annual symposium is often the spark that ignites new partnerships and great ideas,” says Nicholas. “Down the road these sparks have often led to research that can make a substantial difference to the communities we partner with.

"I’m excited that students, professionals, the community, and scholars will have a chance to learn about important research that promotes change, mobilizes research into practice and enhances social justice.”

Transformative Social Work: Addressing Critical Issues of Our Time, the University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work annual research symposium, runs online March 7 to 8, and March 14 to 15. The symposium is free, and you can attend as many or as few sessions as you want.

Register now

The University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work is the largest school of social work in Canada and a North American research leader. The annual research symposium reflects three of the University of Calgary’s foundational commitments: focus on research and scholarship, quality and breadth of learning, and integration with the community. The annual symposium also promotes our deep commitment to positive student experience, and an inclusive and respectful campus culture.

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