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“The Place I Feel I Belong” -- Lynn Boyce Finds her Career Path through Work Placement with Department of Community Services

PUBLISHED DATE: Monday, July 10, 2017
For Lynn Boyce, MMBSW’17, the last place she wanted to be became the place she feels she belongs.

A member of the Potlotek First Nation of Cape Breton, NS, Boyce hopes to use her Mi’kmaq/Maliseet Bachelor of Social Work (MMBSW) degree in a position with Child Welfare—something she never would have considered if it hadn’t been for her work placement.

“It’s funny, because before doing my placement with the Department of Community Services—Child Welfare, it was the last place I wanted to be,” she said. “Now, it’s the place I feel I belong.”

Before her placement, Boyce thought a career in child welfare meant removing children from their families. After working in intake, long term protection, and temporary care and custody at the Department of Community Services, she realized it’s much more than that.

“Looking in from the outside, child welfare is often misinterpreted as negative, which I must admit is how I saw it before I had this opportunity,” she said. “In reality it’s so much more than that. Child welfare is there to help keep families together.”

“We’ve Grown Into a Wonderful and Powerful Group of Social Workers”

The MMBSW program at St. Thomas was established in 2005 with the purpose of providing a culturally relevant framework and flexible schedule for First Nations individuals wishing to pursue a career in social work or related positions within their communities.

“I decided to enroll in the program because I saw it as a great opportunity to further my education and continue working, which was important to me as I still needed to provide for my family,” Boyce said.

“My experience in the program was the best. I came in not really knowing anyone and came out with a group of wonderful people who became my family.”

After her time in the MMBSW program, Boyce believes a collaborative approach to social work will lead to better outcomes for clients and social workers.

“My biggest takeaway from the program is that we’re all in this together,” she said. “I’ve watched us grow together as a family where we all wanted each other to succeed. Because of that, we’ve grown into a wonderful and powerful group of social workers.”

For more information on the MMBSW program at St. Thomas, click here.

Dedicated to Serving Children and Families: Deanna Price Discovers Her Passion for Aboriginal Child Welfare during MMBSW Program

PUBLISHED DATE: Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Deanna Price hopes to dedicate her career to serving children and families.

The mother of four boys discovered her passion for Aboriginal Child Welfare during the Mi’kmaq/Maliseet Bachelor of Social Work (MMBSW) program at St. Thomas University.

“It’s protecting children, but also looking at where and how we can support the family,” Price said. “I think it’s an important opportunity because children are our future.”

A career in social work can be overwhelming, but Price said the MMBSW program emphasized the importance of having hope and not getting discouraged.

“The things we’re looking at can be hard, but what I’ve learned is to look at what I can do and what we can do together to support and serve,” she said.

Discovering a New Career Path

Price, of Fort St. John, B.C, moved to New Brunswick in 2009 after accepting a promotion in her career as a banker. Four years later, she suffered from burnout and was diagnosed with depression—an experience she said shifted her focus and gave her a desire to work with others who may be suffering.

“My values changed and I wasn’t the same person. I wanted to work with people and to be of service to those with mental health and addictions issues,” she said. “When I discovered the MMBSW program I knew I wanted to apply.”

“An Incredible Experience”

During her degree, Price earned experience through a field placement with Social Development where she worked with children and families, which reinforced her passion for Child Welfare.

She also learned a great deal about her culture and its traditions. 

“It was an incredible experience. I learned so much about my Indigenous ancestry that my grandmother couldn’t talk about.  I didn’t know about our traditions, culture, or what it really meant to be a Plains Cree woman,” she said.

“Because of my educational journey in the MMBSW program, the Elders, teachers and people I have met, I’m learning about Indigenous cultures, ceremonies, traditions, teachings, and ways of knowing. My mom and I have been kind of piecing together our past, so I’ve been able to teach and share that with her and my children.” 

This is just the beginning for many of the MMBSW graduates, but Price was quick to recognize how far they’ve come.

“The tenacity that all the graduates have to go through this program is incredible. We have families, jobs, and then meeting and completing our school work. It’s pretty impressive that we were able to come this far,” she said. 

“But, we have much farther to go.  Social work is about justice, serving our communities, learning approaches to offer support for people coping with intergenerational trauma, addictions, policy, and advocacy for others as well as Mother Earth.  This is only a stepping off place.”

Price will deliver the address to the graduates at her MMBSW convocation on July 7.

The MMBSW class of 2017 is the fourth cohort to complete the degree since the program’s inception in 2005. For more information, click here.