Professor Lena Dominelli

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today on Algonquin Anishinaabe territory to recognize National Social Work Month, which was in March. We use March each year as an opportunity to publicly recognize the important work that over 50,000 social workers in Canada do for our communities every single day.

There is one particular social worker I wish to single out today — Dr. Lena Dominelli. She is world-renowned and has made significant contributions over three decades. From feminist and anti-racist social work in the late 1980s to her current innovative practice in green social work and disaster planning, her influence extends globally.

Dr. Dominelli is a prolific writer and holds a Chair in Social Work at the University of Stirling in Scotland. She is a Canadian — an active member of the BC Association of Social Workers — but she resides and works in Scotland.

Dr. Dominelli and I also have a personal connection. We first met in 1991 when she was visiting another feminist scholar in Halifax. Two years later, I entered the University of Sheffield in England as their first joint-location doctoral student. Dr. Dominelli volunteered to be my PhD supervisor. I can still hear her saying, “I don’t know much about Black men’s resilience, but I believe in you!”

Dr. Dominelli believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She inspired me to be the best social work researcher that I could be. She taught me to use the master’s tools to break through the multiple barriers to enter and succeed in the master’s house. She inspired me to become a positive disruptor as a social worker. She continues to be an inspiration to her students. She continues to be an inspiration to me.

Just last month, we, along with the Canadian Association of Social Workers, hosted an online event where we talked about green social work, disaster planning and educating social workers for this important work.

Today, I have the privilege to publicly thank Dr. Lena Dominelli for her many contributions to social work over these past three decades. And I want to wish a belated happy Social Work Month to all social workers in Canada.

Asante. Thank you.

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