Red Deer College held an event celebrating the published works of three of their instructors.
Confluence of Voices: Social Work Ethics, Metis Pioneers and Margaret Laurence featured the works of English Instructor Dr. Laura Davis, Social Work Instructor Elaine Spencer and History Instructor Dr. Doris MacKinnon.
MacKinnon’s book Metis Pioneers focuses on the contributions of two Metis woman during the period following the end of the fur trade.
“My book is a continuation of my first book where I looked at Marie Rose Delorme Smith and I wanted to compare the survival experience of French speaking Metis to English speaking Metis as the fur trade transitioned,” she said. “Isabella (Clark Hardisty Lougheed) presented a really good opportunity to do that.”
MacKinnon, who said the roles of Indigenous people were not up front when she first started studying the fur trade, said it is important to talk about the contributions Metis women made to their communities.
“They helped set up the first hospitals, they helped set up the first reading societies which would become libraries and the entertainment on the prairies,” she said. “They would host all of this in their homes. There was a lot of pressure put on them to help establish communities.”
She added the book helps illustrate how Metis women helped immensely during the transition period following the fur trade.
Davis, who wrote Margaret Laurence Writes Africa and Canada, wrote her book in part to inspire people to read the works of the late great Canadian author Margaret Laurence.
“My book looks at her writing about Africa and her writing about Canada and brings those two together,” Davis said. “I look at her characters and herself because a lot of her work is autobiographical. I look at how they see themselves as uneasy because they are outsiders in the places they inhabit.”
Davis become interested in Laurence’s writing at a very young age.
“If you really want to trace it back, I was introduced to Margaret Laurence as a child. Her book Olden Days Coat is a favourite of mine and was given to me by my mom when I was eight or nine-years-old,” she said.
Davis said Laurence’s writing has great importance in Canadian society today.
“I believe she is a very important writer today in part because of Truth and Reconciliation,” she said. “She was really interested in Metis history and aboriginal history.”
Spencer, who co-edited the social work text Social Work Ethics: Progressive, Practical, and Relational Approaches, said a progressive Canadian social work text is a currently a learning need.
“It is a very interesting 19 chapter book with 15 different contributors about the current landscape of social work ethics across Canada,” Spencer said. “It is written by both practitioners and academics.”
Spencer explained it is now more important than ever that social workers have their own internal ethics.
“I think it is a good thing that students have a much more careful and intentional ethics training when it comes to social work practice, especially with the changes out in the work force,” she said. “There has been a trend for the last decade or so towards managerialism.
“Social workers now need to have a very strong internal sense of ethics. Essentially, if you don’t know you are committing ethical errors or violations, you can actually harm your clients.”
She added, “The book is dedicated to clients who have been harmed by social workers and to our future students so they can go out and do good in the world.”