SSHRC team faculty
Photo Courtesy: Susan Preston

Ryerson and Yukon College Social Work Research Program Awarded $75,000

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By Madison Henry 

A program between Ryerson University and Yukon College that works to study how social work is practiced in smaller and rural communities in Canada’s northern territories, has received the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant.

The grant awards researchers and instructors Dana Jennejohn, Janice Wiens, Dr. Susan Preston and Dr. Cyndy Baskin, $75,000 for their research.

Preston, who is an associate professor and associate director of field education in the School of Social Work at Ryerson, said that the grant money will be used to expand the ongoing project.

“The research grant is being used mostly to pay for student research assistants to work on the project. A small part of the grant is used to cover research training, and for the team (including students) to attend conferences and present findings from the study.”

“Understanding social work practice in northern Canada: A Yukon study” is a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded project to study social work practice in the Yukon. The project, which started as a small pilot that talked to social workers in the northern territories, has grown since its inception in 2015.

The research team consists of Preston and Baskin  from Ryerson’s School of Social Work, Wiens and Jennejohn from Yukon College’s Bachelor of Social Work Program faculty and the college’s Bachelor of Social Work student research assistants Jesse Whelen, Rachelle Knight, and Courtney Tizya.

“Our partnership came from our shared appreciation of social work and love of the Yukon and a desire to build local knowledge and research capacity,” said Preston.

“This lead to our pilot study, where we spoke with Whitehorse social workers about their social work practice in the Yukon. We then applied for and received the $75,000 SSHRC grant to study social practice Yukon-wide.”

The team is currently in the process of gathering data for the project and comparing that data to the findings from the pilot study. Canada is a big country and social work is different in every community. The project aims to show how the profession differs up north versus the southern provinces. 

“Some of the themes that emerged from our pilot study findings focused on the variety and creativity in Yukon social work practice, how social workers manage and negotiate dual roles and multiple relationships in small communities, and how the unique Yukon context impacts social work practice,” Preston said.

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