From Raven Magazine…

Social Work alumnus Andrew Simpson

Social Work alumnus Andrew Simpson

Andrew Simpson earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work at Carleton. Born and raised in Bancroft, Ont., and of Métis ancestry, he works for Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child & Family Services, an Indigenous well-being agency based at Hiawatha First Nation with more than 20 offices spread out over eight First Nations and off-territory towns in south-central Ontario. Simpson started at the agency — which provides culturally based wraparound services to children, youth and families — for his grad school practicum last spring and was hired on as a full-time family service worker.

In this field, people allow you into their world. You play an active role in the lives of individuals and families, helping to connect them to community support. One of the most difficult aspects of this job is fighting the urge to jump in and try to fix problems yourself. Each person or family has their own blueprint, and you work with them to identify and connect to the resources they need.

There’s no cookie-cutter approach. They are the guides, and you need to take the time to listen to their stories and find the right way forward. You need to step back, take a breath, ask questions and allow people to be heard, and then work as a team to alleviate some of the challenges they’re facing.

We integrate culture into the healing process and help reintroduce people to their cultures. That’s been the most beautiful thing that I’ve seen. Indigenous cultural practices have the ability to connect people to each other and to their communities and, at the same time, they challenge colonization.

Trying to navigate Indigenous services and supports in Canada can be difficult, but these are things that our communities need and I’m proud to be part of this journey. As a social worker and as a social justice warrior, I want to help fix the system we live in for the betterment of the people who we support.

My mom is also an Indigenous social worker. Through her and through my aunties, I started to connect with my culture while growing up. As I got older, I started to dig into things more deeply on my own and was exposed to ceremonies and teachings from Elders. It’s definitely been a reconnection for me.

When the pandemic began, I was grateful for the technology that we had, because it allowed us to still connect with families while distancing. We transitioned some of our cultural programming online without skipping a beat. But it was difficult, because a lot of the sense of community we have was built through face-to-face interaction, so I was really happy when we were able to resume seeing people in person in some situations, including visits outside in parks. It meant a lot to see people’s faces — not on a screen — again.

I hope COVID-19 reinforces the importance of community. I hope that people slow down and take the time to be kind and loving and take small steps to help others. Even if it’s a little thing, it could mean something big to someone else.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 in ,
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