Decolonizing Social Work Education Through Indigenous Family-Based Research

Jennifer King


Family-based research is an Indigenous methodology that engages the self, family, and relationships as important sites of resistance and resurgence. Grounded in an Indigenous worldview, family-based research invokes a broad concept of family that recognizes both human and non-human relations. Family-based research is explicitly introspective and emphasizes the power of personal, relational, and small-scale change in supporting the broader movement of Indigenous resistance, resurgence, and transformation. Mainstream social work education does not know how to deal with, assess, or value family-based research. Western academia claims to have “made space” for Indigenous research, yet there remain limits to this acceptance. Social work education continues to privilege Western methodologies. In doing so, social work disciplines Indigenous students into pursuing research that supports wWestern theories of knowledge production and Western strategies of change. If social work is truly committed to transforming Canada’s colonial reality, then changes to social work curriculum, assessment, and training standards are needed to support diverse understandings and strategies of Indigenous resistance and resurgence, including Indigenous methodologies such as family-based research. To improve student experience, social work education needs to unpack its ongoing role in colonizing Indigenous students through academic gatekeeping.


education; family; Indigenous; research; resistance

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