Jan. 23, 2019

Seven social work students receive Indigenous Graduate Awards

Awards important for future social workers and the communities they’ll serve; next application deadline Feb. 7

Author

Carly Schofield, Faculty of Social Work

Social Work grad student Sage Wheeler, right, a Métis artist from Cold Lake, provides some family selfie fun.

Grad student Sage Wheeler, right, a Métis artist from Cold Lake, provides some family selfie fun.

Faculty of Social Work students

An artist who uses her practice to collaborate with the community, an advocate for greater seniors' autonomy, and a student who hopes to open a group home for Indigenous children in care, are among seven graduate students in the Faculty of Social Work recently awarded the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Graduate Award. 

Valued at $15,000, the annual award was established by the Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education to encourage Indigenous Albertans to pursue graduate studies in the province.

The University of Calgary currently has the largest social work program in Canada and is ranked among the top 15 schools in research across North America. The Faculty of Social Work has the highest percentage of Indigenous students enrolled and honours its commitment to diversity. Dr. Jackie Sieppert, dean of the Faculty of Social Work, was thrilled to hear that so many social work students were granted the award, saying the initiative is important for the students, for the communities where they’ll practice and for Canada. The faculty has the highest number of Indigenous students in the University of Calgary.

”Social work is a profession dedicated to changing lives and building strong communities,” says Sieppert. “We attract many Indigenous students who bring deep passion and commitment to these purposes. We learn from them every day. They share knowledge and perspectives that make all of us better social workers. I am not surprised at all to see so many of our Indigenous students receive these awards — they deserve it.”

Social Work grad student Shelby Fellner is a fierce advocate for seniors.

Social Work grad student Shelby Fellner is a fierce advocate for seniors.

About the students

Each award winner brings a unique perspective to the field of social work and has sights set on becoming changemakers in the future.

  • Sage Wheeler, a Métis artist from Cold Lake (part of the faculty’s Central and Northern Alberta Region) combines her art practice with community development through collaboration with other artists and community members. Her practice is multidisciplinary and explores human connections, relationships, failures, care, and radical hope.
  • Shelby Fellner has a passion for seniors and ensuring they have some autonomy over how they live their lives. Shelby’s dream is to promote independence for seniors and educate others to understand that aging does not mean having your rights and freedom taken away.
  • Upon graduation, Sharon Saddleback will be preparing herself for doctoral studies. She also would like to open a group home to provide a space for Indigenous children in care where they would have frequent interactions with elders, be able to learn the Cree language along with cultural teachings, and with a sense of hope for their future.
  • Tracy King credits her success to mindfulness. She finds in the hustle and bustle of life we often forget to take time to smell the flowers. Slowing down and focusing on what is happening in her inner world allows her to be much clearer and more successful with her actions and intentions.
  • Tracy Atkin, Lorne (Clayton) Green and Kristina Kopp were also recipients of this prestigious award.

Congratulations to all our social workers as they complete their studies and continue to make a difference in their communities.

University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work graduate student Tracy King credits her success to mindfulness.

Faculty of Social Work graduate student Tracy King credits her success to mindfulness.

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ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, is a commitment to deep evolutionary transformation by reimagining ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Walking parallel paths together, ‘in a good way,’ UCalgary will move towards genuine reconciliation and Indigenization.