A portrait of B.C.s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

A portrait of B.C.s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Social workers go beyond call of duty

March 3 to 9 allows us the opportunity to recognize the social workers in British Columbia

By Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond


I am grateful that Social Work Week, March 3 to 9, allows us all the opportunity to recognize the social workers in British Columbia and to reflect on their dedication and commitment to the safety and well-being of the children, youth and families.

In my role as Representative, I often issue reports that view the child-serving system through the lens of a child. By examining the work of professionals in this system, I do not apply a standard of perfect 20-20 hindsight vision, but rather seek to support the system to do the best work it can to ensure the most positive outcomes possible.

Through writing these reports, as well as my advocacy function and outreach activities, I often hear of stories of heroism and front-line workers going beyond the call of duty. It is not often that I get to share the numerous stories that come to my attention about the positive differences social workers make in the lives of children and youth across B.C. and also the impact they have on the community at large.

One example of heroism comes from this entry, written for our Representative’s Award of Excellence nominations: “There is no doubt that the voices of children and youth are heard, listened to and acted upon because of this person’s inherent belief that positive change is possible. For anyone who has seen her work with high-risk youth, it is easy to see that it is a labour of love. Her dedication is infectious and she exemplifies the quality of an outstanding, dedicated leader who possesses personal integrity and a natural gift in connecting with youth.”

Here is another example: “She often works many hours outside the job standard to ensure a rich and stimulating experience for children and youth. She gives selflessly and generously of her time and knowledge to create communities of care and celebration both within the region and community. She promotes and celebrates Canada’s Aboriginal cultures – First Nations, Inuit, and Metis – and thereby improves the lives of those in her care by fostering Aboriginal pride in children and encouraging cross cultural tolerance and understanding in the wider community.”

The significant contribution made to society by social workers is all the more inspiring given how difficult their work is. Social workers specialize in their field much like many other professionals, including the areas of special needs support, child protection, guardianship, health care, resource, adoption and Aboriginal children. By specializing in these areas, they can better help align the needs of their clients with the services and resources available to them. They are perpetual learners, maintaining the best interests of their clients as their most important priority.

Social Work Week allows us to extend our gratitude to social workers in B.C. who work tirelessly to support children and youth across the province. These caring individuals make it their mission to protect and support children and youth. They deserve a heartfelt thank you for their commitment and dedication to changing children’s lives for the better.