The CASW National Social Work Month Distinguished Service Award is given yearly by the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) on the occasion of the National Social Work Month, to an individual or group of individuals selected from their membership by each CASW Partner Organization. Some provinces may choose to submit nominations less frequently. The criteria for nominations is established by the provincial/territorial organizations.


All MCSW Members who have provided services and supported Manitobans during the COVID-19 pandemic

Manitoba College of Social Workers

In honour of the dedication of social workers across the province, it is with great pride and appreciation that the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) and the Manitoba College of Social Workers (MCSW) present the CASW 2021 Distinguished Service Award to:

All MCSW Members who have provided services and supported Manitobans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For your knowledge, your skills, your compassion, your sacrifices and your professional commitment - we see you, we thank you and we stand beside you!

BC Social Workers in Healthcare
A sign reads 'Thank you HealthCare Workers!'

British Columbia Association of Social Workers

Social Work Week in British Columbia celebrates the accomplishments of social workers. The provincial government has declared March 14-20, 2021 Social Work Week in British Columbia. Social workers throughout BC plan activities that will highlight their essential contribution to the health and well-being of British Columbians. The theme for 2021 is Social Work is Essential.

COVID-19 has spotlighted inequities in our society and social workers have stepped up to respond to the pandemic with essential services. Nowhere has this been more evident than in healthcare where social workers work with limited resources and often in risky environments. The BC Association of Social Workers is proud to present the BC Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award to BC social workers in healthcare who are at the frontlines of the struggle to contain the pandemic. In their many roles, we know that they are working hard to ensure that individuals, families, and communities have the resources they need to manage and that they are providing comfort to critically ill patients and their families.

Dr. Shelly Birnie-Lefcovitch PhD, MSW, RSW

Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers

The Newfoundland and Labrador College of Social Workers (NLCSW) is pleased to announce that the recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for 2021 is Dr. Shelly Birnie-Lefcovitch RSW.  This award celebrates 50 years of commitment to the social work profession as a practitioner, academic, researcher and leader.

Shelly graduated with a Master of Social work degree from McGill University in 1971 and a PhD from Wilfred Laurier University in 1996.  He began his career working with children, adolescents, and their families in Timmins, Ontario.  From there spending 24 years at the University of Guelph in a variety of positions related to student affairs.  He is passionate about education and his research has focused on creating opportunities, polices and structures to support new students especially those from rural communities to transition successfully from high school to university.

In 1998, Dr. Birnie-Lefcovitch accepted a faculty position at the Memorial University School of Social Work with a cross appointment to the Student Wellness Centre where he continued to impact the lives of students directly and by improving the policies and practices of the university. He was the Director of the School of Social Work at Memorial University for seven years. In addition to his administrative role, he is a dedicated teacher and has provided field instruction to over 20 BSW and MSW students, supervised student research and served on numerous committees both within the School of Social Work and the broader community.

Shelly has been an active member of the Canadian Association for Social Work Education, the Canadian Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work and the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services.  He was actively involved with the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) in the 1980s and has made a substantial contribution to the NLCSW (formerly the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers) serving nine years on the Board of Directors in the role of Executive Member at Large and on planning committees for educational conferences.

A true leader, Shelly demonstrates wisdom, respect, kindness, and fairness in his interactions including when faced with challenging situations. Shelly has had a substantial influence on the lives of his students, his colleagues, and his community. He is a social worker who consistently exemplifies the values of the profession throughout his career as an academic ensuring that his teaching, field instruction and supervision instills the social work ethics, knowledge, and skills to which he is so deeply dedicated. His administrative and policy work has advanced the structures and practices that support the people who intersect with those systems.

Social workers in Newfoundland and Labrador congratulate and extend best wishes to Dr. Shelly Birnie-Lefcovitch.

Serena Lewis

Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

Serena Lewis (she/her) lives and works in rural Nova Scotia, in Mi'kma'ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq People.

She is a proud mother of two sons, one dog and is also a registered social worker.

Serena has had the professional privilege of working within mental health ( seniors and adult), federal corrections ( with women incarcerated), SchoolsPlus, Labour and Advanced Education as well as within Hospice and the health care system. She is passionate about community practice, in all of the ways we engage in a sense of community.

She is a local, national and international facilitator on the topics of dying, death and grief. As a member of the Canadian Grief Alliance, she believes that within a resourced and diverse country- our lives, and so too, our deaths matter. Elevating the intersectionality of the bereaved, she is a strong advocate to elevate grief literacy.

Simone Fournel

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Simone Fournel is a Senior Policy and Project Strategist with Family and Children’s Services at the Government of Yukon.  She graduated from Dalhousie University with a BSW in 2002 and obtained her MSW from the University of Calgary in 2006.  Her career has included a variety of roles in the field of Child Welfare and she has divided most of her work between the NWT and Yukon.  She has been involved with the ASWNC as member in both of those territories.  During her time as a member in the NWT, she contributed to the successful development of Social Work Regulation for that territory.  She currently lives and works in Whitehorse, Yukon.  Since joining Yukon Family and Children’s services she has worked in Management and has played a key role in a number of important initiatives aimed at reducing the number of children in care and improving their long term outcomes.   Some of these include the “Honouring Connections” project, the implementation of “Signs of Safety” as a practice model and the development of a Family Case Management system.  “Honouring Connections” is a joint initiative with the Yukon First Nations that is committed to reviewing the situation of every child in care and exploring options for reunification/strengthening their connection to family, community and culture.  “Signs of Safety” was chosen as a practice model for Yukon, based on the recommendation of the Yukon First Nations, for its strength based approach and emphasis on relationship building. The Family Case Management system, which is about to “go live” will modernize Yukon’s record keeping system and improve quality assurance standards.  The ASWNC Distinguished Service Award recognizes Simone for her contributions to improving child welfare practice in the north.

Susan Curley

PEI Association of Social Workers

Susan Curley’s level of dedication to her clients and the values of our profession are at the highest standard and serve as an example to other PEI social workers. She has been recognized this year for these values after being nominated by a colleague, who like Susan is a social worker at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Charlottetown.

Susan is currently the social worker assigned to the medical unit at the QEH.  Her work as a family preservation worker for child protection services (starting in 1987) led to her interest in social work.  As this interest grew, she graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from the distance program at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2000.  After graduation, she worked for child protection services in Montague, followed by a term at the QEH.  From 2006-2011, Susan worked on the Resource Team at Child and Family Services in Charlottetown. This work involved assessing and approving potential foster and adoptive families and casework with both families and children and youth in care.  In 2011, Susan worked for Homecare in Charlottetown, before going to the QEH in 2012 (where she remains). This was also the same year that Susan completed her Master of Social Work degree (MSW), also from Memorial. At the QEH, her dedication and drive for her clients are visible, even as Susan moves quietly through the hospital.

Susan and her husband Allan have two grown sons.  Susan talks openly about her philosophy of social work practice, saying “Essentially, our role is to meet clients where they are.  Their story is what’s ultimately important.”

Youth in Care Chronicles Editorial Team

Alberta College of Social Workers

Youth in Care Chronicles Editorial Team

• Cody Murrell, BSW, RSW

• Dorothy Badry PhD, MSW, RSW

• Erin Leveque, BSW, RSW

• Megan Mierau, MSW, RSW

The team of four social workers voluntarily led a passion project to develop and publish The Youth in Care Chronicles. This book features the narratives of the lived experiences of former youth in care, now as resilient adults, who want their voices heard and stories shared. The narratives included in this book from 18 former youth in care provide a vulnerable and fresh look at moving beyond growing up in the child welfare system and turn towards the future with boundless hope and resilience. A critical element of this book is a learning guide co-written by the editorial team, which is an innovative tool to inspire and foster professional growth and development for social workers practicing in the child and youth care field, created to inform best practice.


Annette King, MSW

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Born and raised in the Yukon, Annette has dedicated her 25+ years in social work in the Yukon.  She has worked in, developed, and lead systemic change among government organizations. She aligns herself with others who have similar dedication and passion to improve the circumstances for others.   From clinical casework to senior leadership and now Yukon’s Child and Youth Advocate, she is an example of how social work ethics and values inform work at both the individual and the structural levels.

In addition to serving individual children and youth, and overseeing a small and hardworking group of staff, under Annette’s leadership the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office has worked to establish systems and processes for conducting systemic reviews of issues facing children in the Territory. In Spring 2019, Annette and her team published the findings of a review into the territorial group home system, and in Jan 2020 the Office announced a review into barriers to school attendance. Annette’s approach, either in her systemic or her individual advocacy work is always child and youth focused, centering the voices of young people in every stage of the process.

Annette’s social work education is from Red Deer College and the University of Calgary and she has instructed courses, and supervised practicum students, in the BSW program at Yukon College.  We feel that Annette’s commitment to the values of the profession represents the essence of distinguished service.

Bryany Denning, M.SC., MSW, RSW

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Bree Denning is a central advocate for social justice in the NWT. She is currently the Executive Director of the Yellowknife Women’s Society.

In her role as ED for the Yellowknife Women’s Society, she is responsible for the establishment of a Housing First Project in the NWT, a Street Outreach program, two day healing camps for vulnerable and homeless women, an eight bed single-room occupancy rental unit for homeless women, as well as the Yellowknife Work Ready Program (an employment program for people experiencing homelessness and unemployment). Bree also provides leadership and guidance for the existing programs of the Yellowknife Women’s Society, including a women’s shelter, a day care, and a program for marginalized pregnant women and new parents. Her service to the community of Yellowknife, as a social worker who has justice and reconciliation at the core of her work, is meriting of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (2020) Distinguished Service Award.

Jennifer Douglas, BSW, RSW

Manitoba College of Social Workers

Jennifer Douglas, Social Worker with the Winnipeg School Division Adult English as an Additional Language (EAL) Program, is the Manitoba recipient of the 2020 Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) Distinguished Service Award. 

Jennifer is highly respected for her collaborative and innovative leadership approach that has fostered community building and positive partnerships.  Her commitment to intensive teamwork, her exceptional social work skills and her compassionate understanding of diverse cultural values, norms and experiences have enhanced the confidence, academic success and overall well-being of students and their families. 

The Manitoba College of Social Workers is pleased to congratulate Jennifer Douglas, an exceptional and valued member of the social work community in Manitoba, for her outstanding service.

Lynn Labrecque King, MSW RSW

Alberta College of Social Workers

Lynn King is a compassionate social worker and leader with 35 years of service to the social work profession.

Lynn is known within the social work profession nationally amongst colleagues.  She was instrumental in bringing ACSW back to the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) to ensure Alberta had a national voice. She has served as the President of the Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators and contributed leadership in addressing the interjurisdictional mobility of social workers within Canada.  

Throughout her social work career, Lynn has demonstrated tenacity, creativity and collaborative leadership in the various roles she has held both at Alberta Children’s Services and while serving as Executive Director and Registrar of the Alberta College of Social Workers. Through the foundational values of caring, communication and collaboration, she has instilled pride and service to the profession while collaboratively aiming to achieve excellence. She is an exemplary leader, upholding integrity and treating others with kindness, dignity and respect.

Mary Leslie MSW, RCSW

British Columbia Association of Social Workers

Mary Leslie received her MSW from the University of British Columbia School of Social Work in 1969 and was a sessional faculty member 2008-2013. She has over 30 years’ experience in health care including the BC Cancer Agency and Burnaby Palliative Care Program and has been in private practice since 2001. She is a clinical member of the Satir Institute of the Pacific.

     Mary participates extensively at Branch and Board levels and presented webinars for CASW and presentations and workshops for BCASW. She has been published in the Canadian Journal of Counselling (2003), the Satir International Journal (2016), and Perspectives. She is a longstanding volunteer with BCASW and valued colleague who is willing to share her expertise and her compassion.

     Versed in a multi-modal form of practice including face to face, telephone, and secure video counselling; she has kept abreast of technology to broaden her practice and to make counselling more accessible for those unable to utilize traditional forms.

    Some of Mary’s early social work experiences were ground-breaking and inspirational. She was part of the team that set up a downtown Vancouver community health clinic and she worked with the Children’s Foundation. Later at St Paul’s, Lion’s Gate Hospitals, and the Northshore Health Unit she participated in setting up the Closer To Home palliative care program.

    Mary volunteered in South Africa in 2006 with camps for vulnerable and orphaned children; setting up a referral system with the local social services.  She worked extensively in BC for causes related to social justice, peace, and the environment. She is a strong and persistent spokesperson, whose clarity, fairness, gentle manner, and compassion model the values of her conviction to act for a safe and just world.

Michelle Ryan MSW, RSW

Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers

The recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for 2020 is Michelle Ryan MSW, RSW.  This award celebrates her stellar social work leadership. 

Michelle holds Bachelor and Master of Social Work degrees from Memorial University.  Throughout the past 32 years, she has exemplified the values of the profession maintaining a commitment to clients and working tirelessly to improve the health and social systems in this province.

Currently, Michelle is the Director of Quality, Patient Safety and Risk Management with Eastern Health.  Her previous roles have included Manager, Office of Adverse Health Events; Regional Director, Community Children’s Services; Director, Planning and Quality; Provincial Co-ordinator, Services to Children & Youth with Special Needs; Director, Mental Health and Addiction; Director of Social Work; Addictions Coordinator and Child Welfare Worker. 

She has been devoted to enhancing the quality of life for individuals, families and communities in each of these positions.  Described as a “pragmatic visionary and strategic influencer”, Michelle has an acute understanding of systems and how to affect positive change.   She has used her excellent communication and leadership skills to tackle complex challenges in the health care and child welfare systems.  As a valued collaborator, colleague and leader, she creates positive work environments while coaching and mentoring emerging leaders.

Additionally, Michelle has actively contributed to the advancement of the social work profession as a field instructor for the MSW and BSW programs, guest lecturer and sessional instructor.  She has contributed to the work of NLASW in her roles of past chair of the Quality Assurance and Discipline Committees.

Social workers in Newfoundland and Labrador congratulate and extend best wishes to Michelle.

S Brad Delong, MSW, RSW

New Brunswick Association of Social Workers / L'association des travailleuses et des travailleurs sociaux du Nouveau-Brunswick

Earning his MSW in 1990, Brad DeLong his social work career with Correction Services Canada before continuing on to work with the John Howard Society in Ottawa from 1992-96, where he became the Supervisory for the program. During his time there, he was approached by a Colorado Company, Rebound, to design and initiate the clinical component of a boot camp in Florida.

When he returned, he was approached by the Premiere of Ontario to bid on and open a Young Offenders Boot Camp, which became the first strict discipline camp in Moonstone, Ontario. Brad worked with an interdisciplinary team and developed and implemented the clinical component of this camp before turning to work at Kinark Child and Family services and, then, returning back home to New Brunswick.

From 2000 to 2011, Brad worked at Family Plus in Saint John, NB as a private clinician for children, youth, and families. It was during these 11 years that Brad developed the Families in Transition (FIT) Program and trained the staff. The basis of this wrap around program was to work with families in their own homes and collaborate with other agencies/practitioners solely focused on the individual child and parents; the program targeted families in crisis with the potential of the children going into foster care.

The FIT Program was a paradigm shift in the region. The concept was very well received by multiple government agencies and was very successful as the key was providing the particular child and family the necessary social services in the family home and not in an office.

In 2008, Brad opened his own private practice called Family Matters and he continued to work in the private sector, even after joining the Child and Youth Team at Mental Health Services in Sussex, NB as the Supervisor. He then became the Supervisor of the Hampton Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) Team from 2016 until his sudden passing in March 2018.

Throughout Brad’s many years as a social worker, he supervised MSW and BSW students, he was trained in CBT, MST, VTRA Levels 1 & 2 and working with sex offenders, he was a huge advocate for the profession, and he simply loved what he did, which is evidenced by his daughter following in his footsteps and numerous clients expressing a desire to be helpers in the youth worker type fields. He also encouraged all social workers with a BSW to get their MSW.

Brad was also a huge advocate for his clients, attending court with them as a support, going to school meetings, writing letters of support, or advocating for them. Brad was exceptional with the teen population and would go above and beyond to help them, however he was unassuming and never took credit for the impact he had in his clients’ and colleagues’ lives.

Brad also volunteered his time by supervising the “Out of the Cold Program” for 3 years when in Barrie, Ont. This program was for the homeless where he and his wife would collect clothing then distribute it and every Monday they would serve a hot meal to those in need. Also, from 2001-2009, Brad was a “behind the scenes”

volunteer for the “Run for the Cure” and every weekend before Christmas, he and his wife would wander around Toys R Us for hours handing out gift cards, which he paid for by restoring antique furniture and asking to be “paid” in Toys R Us gift cards. Finally, every Christmas, Brad and his wife adopted a Christmas family where they provided gifts for the kids as their father had passed away from ALS.

Although Brad has since left us, his memory will live on in anyone who was truly blessed to be able to call him “boss”, “colleague”, “friend”, “counselor”, “dad”, “grandfather”,

“son”, “husband.”


Dr. Marion Brown, MSW, PhD, RSW

Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

Holly Uvilluk

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Holly was raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut and New Brunswick. She pursued post-secondary education at St Thomas University in New Brunswick, and then later at the University of Northern British Columbia to earn her Bachelor of Social Work.  Holly returned to the north to start a family and embark on her career path.  She has worked with the Department of Family Services over the past 4 years, as a Community Social Service Worker.  She has worked with individuals and families in the community, building strong relationships with those she supports.  Holly has been instrumental in reviving the Foster Parent Association and has given time and attention to developing programming for children in care. She has tirelessly volunteered on weekends to coordinate activities for children at the local elementary school gym.  Her strong work ethic and exuberant personality have made her a pillar within her Family Services team, and a trusted support to those she serves.  Congratulations to Holly, the deserving recipient of this year’s Distinguished Service Award.


Jill Brown

Manitoba College of Social Workers

Kelly Cooper

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Kelly is a long time Yukon social worker who has worked in both direct practice as a probation officer and victim services worker as well as in addressing larger issues such as how the Yukon will respond to and support an aging population.  For the past thirteen years, Kelly has been privileged to manage an amazing team of social workers at the Senior Services and Adult Protection and leads this team in an effective, supportive and overall excellent manner according to her staff.  Kelly sometimes takes on secondments which are generally aimed at developing a program or policy in her area of expertise. 

Kelly enjoys mentoring practicum students and instructing the Bachelor of Social Work Social Work and Aging course at Yukon College and has presented to the students many times as a guest.  She supports her team to take on practicum students as well. Kelly is ethical, competent and engaged! For 5 years she supported the Canadian Association of Social Workers as a journal reviewer and editor.  Kelly believes collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and traditions are key for individuals, families, and communities to grow.  Kelly has resided in Yukon for 33 years and continues to passionate about developing policies and programming that will support Yukon’s aging population, and in her spare time has fun puppy wrangling.


Kimberly Azyan

British Columbia Association of Social Workers

Kimberly has practiced social work for nearly 30 years and is recognized from within and beyond the social work profession as a distinguished, humble, visionary leader gifted with the ability to practice at all levels – individual, team, community, policy, and legislatively - simultaneously to best serve the interests and enhance quality of life with and for people in vulnerable circumstances. She is recognized as a relentless champion for the rights of adults with intellectual disabilities in BC. She was involved in the downsizing of Woodlands School and the move of residents to community. She led the Woodlands Class Action Project at the Public Guardian and Trustee where she has been a manager and Executive Director of Services to Adults since 1994. She is steadfastly committed to ensuring redress and quality of life for people served by the PGT for whom PGT is committee of estate, litigation guardian, and most recently in relation to the ex-gratia payments as bare trustee – guided by the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves and social work ethics and values. 


Kimberly played an integral role in the implementation of BC’s Adult Guardianship legislation and has trained and consulted on this legislation internally, throughout the province and nationally. She is well known for infusing the implementation of the law with a social worker’s commitment to personhood, citizenship, and social justice. 


Kimberly served the profession of social work well as a Board member of the BC Association of Social Workers from 2007 – 2010.  In addition, in 2004 Kimberly received the UBC Alumni Achievement Blythe Eagles Award for volunteer leadership in recognition of her work as President of the Alumni Board of the UBC School of Social Work from 1997-2008.


Congratulations Kimberly!

Mona Romaine Elliott, MSW, RSW

Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers

The recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for 2019 is Mona Romaine Elliott MSW, RSW.  This award recognizes her significant contribution to the social work profession.

Mona holds a Bachelor and Master of Social Work degree from Memorial University.  Over the past 35 years, she has contributed substantially to both management and clinical practice primarily in youth corrections, mental health/ addictions and long-term care.

Mona began her career in 1984 with the Waterford Hospital in St. John’s before moving to the Department of Social Services where she worked as a social worker in Bonavista and as the Regional Coordinator in Harbour Grace. In 1994, Mona was hired as the first Mental Health Therapist with the Bonavista Health Care Complex. She proceeded to develop and expand the community based mental health program in that community becoming the Regional Director of Community Mental Health.  Her work during this time led to her unofficial title as the “Founding mother of mental health services in Bonavista”.  She expanded the scope of her responsibilities when she became the Director of Integrated Community Health Services responsible for all community-based services within the Pennisulas region.  Mona then proceeded to a commitment to long term care services in the province through the positions of Program Manager and Director of Long Term Care.  She recently retired from the position of Regional Director, Long Term Care, Eastern Health, a position which she held for the past two years.

Mona has provided leadership within the social work professional community.  She served as the President of NLASW from 2014-2016 and spent a total of seven years on the board of directors serving initially as Eastern Representative then President Elect (2012-2014) and Past President (2016-2018). She has been a field instructor for both MSW and BSW students at the Memorial University School of Social Work and a mentor to many social workers. 

Mona has been active in community initiatives especially in the areas of violence prevention and youth corrections. She served as the co-chair of the Eastern Region Committee Against Violence for several years. She developed the Bonavista Area Alternative Measures program and has been a leader and mediator with Youth Justice Committees for over twenty years.  She also found time to volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross Disaster Management program.

Throughout her various capacities, Mona is a social worker with a strong sense of identity with and passion for this profession. She is a true leader who exemplifies social work values on a daily basis.  In addition to her excellent social work skills, competence and knowledge, Mona brings warmth, compassion and humour.

Social workers in Newfoundland and Labrador congratulate and extend best wishes to Mona Romaine Elliott, recipient of the 2019 Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for this province.




Natalie Bieberdorf, BSW, RSW

Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers


Natalie received her Bachelor of Social Work Degree from the University of Regina in 1989. Originally from Estevan, Natalie moved to Yorkton to begin her career in Social Work with the Department of Social Services. In Yorkton, Natalie worked in various programs including Income Security and Child Protection. She then moved to Weyburn and worked for eight years as a Supervisor of Child Protection with Social Services. In 2006, Natalie made the decision to take a position with Sun Country Health Region (now Saskatchewan Health Authority) as Director of Therapies, Patient Counselling and the Acquired Brain Injury Program. While she manages a number of social workers, Natalie also has other professionals in her department including Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Adult Speech and Language Therapists and the Falls Coordinator (a position she advocated for and helped to develop). This was a less traditional area for a Social Worker to manage and Natalie has excelled here while using social work principles in all of her interactions. A social work colleague in another department shared this- "I have gone to Natalie for advice regarding ethics issues and she has provided me with sound advice. She is always very approachable."

Natalie accepts new challenges and is open to hear new ideas or opportunities for improvements. Natalie played a crucial role in supporting her staff to develop new programs such as the Pulmonary Rehab and Cardiac Rehab programs which target Chronic Disease patients. Natalie is also supporting her department's involvement in a dementia initiative with the University of Saskatchewan.  Called RaDAR, this program brings a team of allied professionals together in rural and remote communities for early intervention and diagnosis of people with suspected dementia.

Natalie has also been active in her community. She was a founding member and volunteer with Big Brothers and Sisters and Victim Services in Yorkton. Natalie is involved with the Habitat for Humanity Board and is on the Family Selection Committee in Weyburn. She also served on the Sun Country Regional Health Board for over four years.

In 2010, in her position as a director, Natalie missed the daily contact and interactions with a social work community and recognized that other social workers may be feeling the same way. She initiated discussions with social workers in the community and the idea of forming a branch was born. Natalie led this initiative and in 2011 the South East Branch of SASW was formed. Natalie served as the first Branch President and has been elected into this position every year since. The South East Branch has been active with regular meetings, organizing education events and celebrating Social Work Week.

Natalie has been and continues to be an inspiration to her social work colleagues and is also respected by her management co-workers and staff from the various professional groups she manages. She has forged new trails and been a role model for many.



Phyllis Mawdsley

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Phyllis Mawdsley has had a 40-year career as a Social Worker in the Northwest Territories, as a front-line Community Social Service Worker in the regions of the Beaufort Delta, the Deh Cho, Hay River and Fort Smith. As a generalist social worker in small northern communities Phyllis has had hands on experience working in child protection, community and family services, mental health, community corrections, income support, and family violence. Her passion has always been working directly with the children and families she serves.

Phyllis was active in opening the first alcohol and drug treatment centre in Inuvik in 1978, in the development and operation of the first Northwest Territories women and children’s safe shelter in Fort Smith in 1987, and she also instructed and supervised many Aurora College Social Work practicum students. She also has significant leadership experience at the management level in social programs, most recently as the Chief Operating Officer for the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Fort Smith Region from 2014 to her retirement this year, as well as active participation in territorial-wide initiatives, including the working group of mental health chronic disease management and the child and family services information system renewal.

Phyllis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alberta (1978), a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Victoria (2002) and a Master of Social Work degree from Dalhousie University (2006).  She completed her certification with the Justice Institute of British Columbia as a Conflict Resolution Mediator (2017) and as a Family Mediator (2018).

Phyllis plans to remain in Fort Smith, NT and let life lead her on to the next adventure. She is honoured to have had such a diverse career as a northern social worker that has provided her spectacular opportunities to meet and work with so many amazing people. She summarizes her northern social work career saying, “Working as a social worker in northern Canada is a profession that I would highly recommend.  It has been a very humbling experience working with northern Indigenous people where I have learned a great deal about the impact of colonization and the importance of truth, reconciliation, and self-government for Indigenous people moving forward.”


Richard Gregory
Photograph of Richard Gregory

Alberta College of Social Workers

We are honoured to recommend recognition of Richard Gregory through the Canadian Association of Social Workers, Distinguished Service Award.         


Richard regularly expresses his pride in being a social worker for over 30 years.    He has worked in both the child welfare and the young offender systems, he has worked with youth and families in crisis at a runaway and homeless shelter and with families of children with special needs.  In Calgary, Richard was a sessional instructor in the Social Work Program at Mount Royal University.  He was the Coordinator and instructor in the social work diploma program at Medicine Hat College from 1998 to 2015 and served as Department Chair – Health and Human Services. 

Richard has also contributed many hours and years of volunteer work, including 19 years with HIV and AIDS.  He was president of the board for the HIV Network in Medicine Hat for six years and was the president when they opened the harm reduction program in Medicine Hat.  He has been the chairperson of the Social Development Advisory Board with the City of Medicine Hat, on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Shelter, and was one of the Human Rights Advisors at Medicine Hat College for 13 years.  He served as secretary for the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education (CAPDHHE).  Richard has been a strong advocate for equality and social justice.   In Calgary he was very involved with the gay community and was one of the organizers of the first gay pride parade in Calgary and lobbied for the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected right in Alberta.     In 2013 Richard received a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee award in recognition of his volunteer commitments. In 2016 Richard received a Hero Award from the Chinook Foundation of Calgary in recognition of his endeavors in advancing the quality of life for GLBTQ people.   Richard was presented the Sunny Andrews Award from the Association of Social Work Boards for outstanding regulatory social work board service in November 2016. 

With a decade of service to the Alberta College of Social Workers, Richard's service to his profession has been outstanding and his commitment steadfast.  Richard has been a Member at Large, Treasurer, Vice President and President.  He has completed volunteer terms of over 10 years on the Council of the Alberta College of Social Workers.   Through service on numerous committees year after year, he has worked to uphold the principles and strength of the profession of social work. He has worked to foster good working relationships with social work educators and members of legislature.  He is well known in social work education and social work advocacy circles as a strong supporter of the role that regulation and registration of professionals plays in serving and protecting public while strengthening the profession.  He actively participates in national and international organizations including the Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators, the Canadian Association of Social Workers and the Association of Social Work Boards.

Richard's leadership on the ACSW Council and in the social work community in the Province of Alberta has been appreciated and recognized by colleagues for his understanding of leadership at governance levels as well as leadership within grassroots advocacy for our province and country’s vulnerable citizens. Within his leadership roles his value for strong ethical principles and values shine.

"Over and above" perfectly describes his caring and commitment to engaging, collaborating and serving with others to the betterment of the social work profession and of our communities.  


The Council of The Alberta College of Social Workers

Sigrid Rolfe, RSW

PEI Association of Social Workers

Sigrid Rolfe, RSW was presented the 2019 CASW Distinguished Service Award. Sigrid has just retired as the Executive Director of the PEI Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, after 13 years.  Sigrid also served on the Premier’s Advisory Council on Family Violence Prevention and the PEI Child Sexual Abuse Advisory Committee.  In 2014, her work in family violence prevention (with that of Dr. Philip Smith) was recognized by the Muriel McQueen Ferguson Foundation. She has been an authorized social worker in private adoptions for 18 years, contributing to the growth of many island families. Sigrid also spent 16 years as a caseworker at Big Brother Big Sisters PEI, and worked in child protection in both Summerside and Halifax and in mental health in Winnipeg, where she graduated from the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba.  Sigrid humbly embodies the passion for social justice and the dedication to service found in our profession.

Valerie DeLong, BSW, RSW

New Brunswick Association of Social Workers / L'association des travailleuses et des travailleurs sociaux du Nouveau-Brunswick

Valerie Delong is a Consultant for Child Welfare and Youth Services in Social Development, New Brunswick. Valerie has worked as a front-line social worker in many program areas, including Child Protection and Adult Protection, prior to becoming the Provincial Consultant for Family Supports for Children with Disabilities, Children’s Resource Services, Birth Parent Services, and Open Custody. She is also the Coordinator for Provincial Complex Case and the liaison to the Foster Families Association and the Group Home Association. Through her work, Valerie has had a vastly positive impact on the children of New Brunswick. In addition to having worked as a social worker for over 30 years, Valerie also finds time to volunteer in her community and has been a valued member of various committees with the NBASW, including the Bylaws Committee and as Fredericton Chapter President. Valerie is known for being humble and selfless and never hesitating to help a person in need. She confronts injustice and unfairness head on, accepting these challenges as part of her responsibility to the profession and as a caring human being. Valerie exemplifies social work values in her everyday life and is a role model for many social workers in the field. It is with honour that we present Valerie Delong as the recipient for this years Distinguished Service Award.


Calgary and Area Social Workers for Social Justice

Alberta College of Social Workers

Calgary Social Workers for Social Justice are an ACSW member interest group working towards social justice and social change in Calgary, provincially, and federally by increasing the visibility of social justice issues and systemic solutions by supporting, educating and encouraging social workers to be social justice advocates.  In support of these goals the group shares knowledge, ideas and action plans at monthly meetings, hosts speakers and workshops, and has an active policy sub- committee whose members represent the group on key community actions.   The group has a small communications team that shares information on events that promote social justice. 


The group have continuously focused on poverty elimination.  They took a lead role in advocating for the introduction of Basic Income in Alberta.  Having joined a steering committee of some of the major organizations in Calgary that support this policy, the group engaged in building community awareness and support. Many other efforts have been directed to help alleviate poverty, including maintenance of the low-income transit pass, approval of secondary suites, support for the increase in minimum wage and pressing for an increase in social assistance rates.  The group followed the work of the Child and Youth Advocate and the responses of the Ministry of Children’s Services to the concerns raised in his reports.  They supported the progressive steps of government, including the Minister of Education’s defence of LGBTQ+ rights in schools; including attending a rally in support of not outing students. 


In addition, members of the group hosted an Anti-Racism, Anti-Colonization and Social Justice Learning Series in partnership with the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary; Alberta Network of Immigrant Women, Migrated Social Workers for Indigenous Social Justice and Alberta Men’s Network. This five-part experiential and relational learning series was a response to the rising tide of emboldened racism in our Canadian context.  There was a focus on Indigenous and intercultural exchange, knowledge sharing, the critical retelling of his/herstory, learning/unlearning, accountability and relationships.

Erin Beckwell, BSW, MSW, RSW (SK)

Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers

Erin is a social worker who has spent her career working in the areas of health, education, and community development. She is particularly passionate about community engagement, anti-racist education, harm reduction, and trauma-informed care. 


She currently works a Knowledge Translation Specialist and Policy Analyst with the Public Health Observatory in the Saskatoon Health Region, and as a Sessional Instructor with the University of Regina Faculty of Social Work. In 2014 she founded Nourish YXE, a community-based group that works to promote body acceptance and weight-neutral approaches to health and challenge weight stigma.


Originally from Treaty 4 Territory in rural Southwest Saskatchewan, she now lives in Saskatoon (Treaty 6 Territory & Homeland of the Métis) with her wife, Lisa.


Jan Wood

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Jan Wood is a long time Yukoner who has dedicated her career to improving the quality of life for vulnerable people, including children and adults with disabilities, the elderly and those who experience substance abuse. Jan has worked in a number of settings, including the Child Development Centre, the Association for Community Living, Teegatha'Oh Zheh Society, the Thomson Centre and now Yukon Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services. Jan is a graduate of the Yukon College BSW program and demonstrates integrity and respect in all aspects of her work. Her passion for supporting marginalized populations toward being included in the community and building partnerships amongst supporting agencies has been the drive of her everyday work. As a Social Worker and former, part time Instructor in the Early Childhood Program at Yukon College, Jan has mentored many students and new grads about the value of meeting people where they are and supporting them in the next steps towards a more positive well-being.

Jan is an active member of the ASWNC Board of Directors with no plans to retire.

Korrina Harvey

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Korrina was born in Yellowknife, NWT, and has lived in various other communities within the NWT, including Pine Point, Hay River. Kugluktuk, Nunavut is her home community. She is a single mother of three children, ages 17, 14 and 12. “I am the oldest within my adopted family and the youngest in my biological family, so I have the best of both worlds. I chose social work in hopes of assisting people when they cannot understand policies and procedures, after my own difficult experience with family lawyers and mediators. Also, to allow my children to realize that if you set your mind on any goal it can be accomplished with an education and enough self-respect as regardless of your race. I have enjoyed the experience and meeting knew people along the way.” Korrina attended Nunavut Arctic College where she earned her diploma in the Human Services/Social Work Program. She has previously worked as a Community Social Service Worker in Rankin Inlet, and as a Justice Worker and youth counsellor in Kugluktuk. She is currently acting as the Child and Family Services Supervisor in Cambridge Bay. Colleagues describe her as being well-organized, reliable and compassionate in her interactions. Korrina enjoys fishing and working on sewing projects. “I love being outdoors as it very calming to the mind and soul.”

Lyla Andrew, MSW, RSW

Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers

The recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for 2018 is Lyla Andrew MSW, RSW. 

Lyla grew up in Toronto and graduated with a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto in 1977.  After graduation, she was keen to pursue a path where she would be challenged and grow.  This led her to accept a two-year placement position with Frontier College working with the women in the Innu Community of Sheshatshui, Labrador to establish a day care.  This decision to move to Sheshatshui in 1977 changed the course of Lyla’s personal and professional life.  When she arrived, she was committed to genuinely listening and learning about the Innu culture and felt privileged to have this opportunity. She came to love the Innu way of sharing with neighbours and the strong sense of commitment to one another. She met an Innu man who would become her husband and together they raised four children.  For the past forty years Lyla has committed her personal and professional life to working side by side with members of this community. She has witnessed the pure joy when people go to Nutshimit (out on the land) and the transformation which occurs with the opportunity to do so.

Throughout her social work career, Lyla has worked with both the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu Government.  She was employed as a social worker with the Department of Social Services in Sheshatshui and Davis Inlet.  She held various positions with both the Innu Nation and the Sheshatshui Innu First Nation including Assistant to the President and mentor to the Health Commission Director.  For a decade, she was the Regional Director and Zone Manager with the Child, Youth and Family Services Program. Lyla was involved with the transition of child welfare services from the Labrador Grenfell Healthy Authority to the Department of Child Youth and Family Services (later the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development).  During this time, she worked on many initiatives to keep children safe and protected while doing everything possible to keep children in their home communities.  Since 2015, Lyla has been the Child, Youth and Family Services Community Liaison Social Worker with the Innu Round Table Secretariat. In her current role, she is part of a team working towards devolution of child welfare services from the provincial government to the Innu Nation.

Lyla has challenged non-Innu systems to utilize a lens which acknowledges differences and focuses on access to services which are culturally based.  She advocates for equal treatment and protection from the injustices the Innu have experienced. She has participated in many forums to improve working relationships and to explain how legislation, policy and practices can be improved.  Lyla has volunteered with the NL Association of Social Workers.  Most recently she was instrumental in the development of the NLASW Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice (2016).  This document is built on the foundation that social workers have an ethical responsibility to demonstrate cultural awareness and sensitivity while enhancing competence to work with people from diverse cultures. 


Lyla Andrew exemplifies the values of the social work profession.  This award recognizes her commitment to sharing her knowledge, skills and abilities in a way which is respectful and makes a difference.  Social workers in this province extend our congratulations and best wishes.

Melanie Abbott, RSW, MSW

British Columbia Association of Social Workers

While balancing a large caseload, facilitating groups, and completing EMDR training, Melanie recognized there were limited services for our local transgender community. Instead of referring clients to a provincial website and suggesting they seek services in elsewhere, Melanie figured out a better plan. She connected with resources in the lower mainland, developed and continues to facilitate a Transgender Support Group, and is certified to complete hormone assessments. She is currently training to also complete gender affirmation surgery assessments. Melanie will be the only person north of Prince George with the ability to complete these assessments which makes her an asset to northern practice. In order to adapt to client need, she has made her support group accessible by teleconference for those living outside of the community. Terrace is lucky to have Melanie is a local professional but she reaches beyond our city limits to ensure those who need support, have the same opportunities across the north.

Michael Whitlock, MSW, RSW

PEI Association of Social Workers

Michael is being recognized for his outstanding work, excellent leadership and diligent effort in making a difference in mental health, especially during difficult times.  He has enriched the lives of others, not only his clients but also his colleagues as well.  His co-workers describe him as positive, supportive, committed, creative, and determined.  They describe him as an excellent team worker and an outstanding role model.  Michael has been a social worker since 1990.  He holds a BSW from Saint Thomas University and an MSW from Carleton University.  


Michael is a long-standing member of the PEIASW, and a past member of the NBASW, including a term as an NBASW Chapter President.  He is a past Chair and Vice Chair of the PEI Social Work Registration Board and member of the PEIASW's  Professional Development Committee.  He has been responsible for leadership in the implementation of numerous client-centered initiatives in mental health, child protection, and social work education.  He has been a Community Mental Health Supervisor with Health PEI since 2004.


Sandy Bay Child & Family Services

Manitoba College of Social Workers

For over a decade, Sandy Bay Child & Family Services has played an important role in cultivating positive change in Manitoba’s child welfare system. Its promotion and implementation of innovative approaches to child welfare has resulted in significant policy shifts and reform across the child welfare spectrum, from funding initiatives to policy and standard changes.

Sandy Bay Child & Family Services has demonstrated leadership through its progressive programs, projects and partnerships including its customary care community model, post-secondary education supports to indigenous children in care and its indigenized core training model. Its steadfast commitment to family preservation and support has resulted in positive outcomes for children and families provided with collaborative and culturally sensitive social work services.

In fulfilling its mandate, Sandy Bay Child & Family Services has demonstrated a commitment to public accountability, ethics and excellence in social work by ensuring child welfare services within its organization are delivered by registered social workers dedicated to practicing in accordance to recognized professional standards of practice and ethical guidelines in the interests of the public.

The Manitoba College of Social Workers is pleased to honour Sandy Bay Child & Family Services, including its staff and Board of Directors, as the 2018 recipients of the CASW Distinguished Service Award.

Susan Fitzky

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Susan has come to the profession of social work through a life long commitment to social justice and advocacy. She has worked in the field of child welfare, from direct frontline practice to a practice specialist role with the Department of Health and Social Services. Most recently, Susan has been an instructor at Aurora College, where she has focused her efforts on engaging in reconciliation in education and transformation of child welfare system. Susan has a deep commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commision's Calls to Action and continues to focus her work in that spirit.

Susan inspires critical thought to our current child welfare system with her students and helps them to envision an effective system that aligns with the TRC Calls to Action. She has revitalized the relationship with NWT and Prairie Child Welfare Consortium and sits on this group as a representative of our territory with hopes to transform child welfare services in the north. When Susan presents on the topic of child welfare transformation, you can feel (and sometimes see) her passion, deeply felt responsibility and recognition of the changes that need to be made; in her voice and in her tears when presenting, those emotions are tangible to whomever is listening.

Susan also sits on the Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada where she is one of three NWT Directors.


Wendy Keen MSW, RSW
Wendy Keen receives the Distinguished Service Award.

Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

The council of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers has awarded Wendy Keen the CASW Distinguished Service award. Throughout her years of service, she has demonstrated the best of social work practice. Her empathy, pursuit of social justice and dedication to social work has lead Wendy to many parts of Canada, where she has brought her talents for organizing and engaging organizations.  Wendy, as a Registered Social Worker has been the Executive Director of a women’s shelter and in 2009 retired from the Department of Community Services as a District Manager. Wendy served as Executive Director of Family and Children Services for several years, where she demonstrated leadership in the support to families in the community. In addition, to her many contributions to the communities that she serves Wendy has served on council and the Board of Examiners of NSCSW (previously NSASW) since 1982 and has worked tirelessly to promote social work and ensure that the profession continuously works to demonstrate strong ethical standards. Wendy is very deserving of this award and the Council of the College is very privileged to award it too Wendy for her distinguished service to the profession of social work.  


Andrea Reid, MSW, RSW

New Brunswick Association of Social Workers / L'association des travailleuses et des travailleurs sociaux du Nouveau-Brunswick

Fred Nelson, MSW, RSW and Megan McLeod, MSW, RSW

Manitoba College of Social Workers

In February 2016, experienced Social Workers, Fred Nelson and Megan McLeod, agreed to delay their retirement plans to assist in the development and implementation of interdisciplinary services related to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).  Mr.  Nelson and Ms. McLeod quickly and competently began providing clinical support  to the MAID  team and its clients, navigating  through  uncharted  territory in their  effort  to  ensure that  patients  and clients  were both  informed  of their  rights and all of their  end of life treatment options, while respecting the inherent  worth  and dignity of all individuals and supporting client self-determination and autonomy.

Both Mr.  Nelson and Ms. McLeod are exemplary social workers, demonstrating skilled ability to show compassion, empathy and commitment to assessing and addressing the non-physical elements of distress.  They both put the patient and family first while being balanced and cognizant of their own needs, supporting each other, the multiple team needs and the needs of the community.

Geoff Hood, BSW, RSW

Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

Geoff Hood resides in Halifax with his partner and two year old son. He is a Graduate of Acadia University where he completed a B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy. It was through these early studies that he first became interested in Ethics and Social Justice. He went on to complete a B.S.W. from Dalhousie University. Geoff began his career working at the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Center, where he supported the well-being of both children and adults living with developmental and mental health related challenges. These early opportunities to practice in supportive alliances and meaningful connections with service users helped solidify his long-term commitment to social work practice.

Geoff has gone on to provide services to children and families at risk through his work in the child welfare sector. Geoff’s efforts have focused on addressing the complex socio-political issues that impact the needs of children and families. His practice has focused on child wellbeing and family centered interventions designed to empower service users and build resilience. Geoff has recently moved into a position with Staff Training with Child Youth and Family Supports, a division of the Department of Community Services, which has allowed him to provide new social workers with up to date training in order to further their skills.

In addition to everyday practice, Geoff has contributed time to foster the learning of social workers entering the field. Geoff has provided field instruction to students completing their B.S.W. program at Dalhousie University, and has provided Candidacy Supervision for newly practicing social workers. Geoff has also worker as a member of the Dalhousie Alumni Association (2006-2009.)

Further to this, Geoff has made a significant contribution to social work practice in Nova Scotia. Geoff served on Counsel for the NSASW (now NSCSW) while chair of the Ethics and Standards Committee (2008-2010) and again after becoming the chair of the Board of Examiners (2014-2016.) Geoff has also chaired the Complaints Committee on behalf of the Board of Examiners. Geoff also served on the Child Welfare Interest Group.

Geoff has worker with both the Board of Examiners and the Counsel to move the NSCSW forward under a new operating model designed to strengthen the profession while focusing on the protection of the public.

Ian Shortall, MSW, RSW

Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers

The recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for 2017 is Ian Shortall MSW, RSW.  This award recognizes his significant contribution and unwavering commitment to the social work profession provincially and nationally.

Ian holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Memorial University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto.  Over the past 31 years, Ian Shortall has contributed substantially to both clinical and management practice.  He began his career as a child and adolescent mental health clinician and family therapist, later moving to the positions of division manager within the health care system and Professional Practice Co-ordinator for social work with Eastern Health.  Throughout these years, he maintained a clinical private practice. His current role is the Director of the Employee Assistance and Respectful Workplace Program with the Public Service Commission, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ian exemplifies the values of the social work profession on a daily basis.  He is described as “professional to the core” bringing competence and integrity to both his clinical practice and his leadership roles.  Ian approaches every person and situation with respect and fairness working tirelessly to support clients and guide the many social workers and students whom he has supervised.

Ian has provided leadership within the social work professional community.  Throughout the 1990s he volunteered his knowledge and skills to the NLASW Professional Issues Committee providing ethical consultations to social workers in practice serving a term in the role of Chair.  This committee received the CASW Distinguished Service Award in 1999 for significant contribution to social work in the province.  From 2006- 2008 Ian Shortall was the President of the NL Association of Social Workers spending a total of six years contributing initially as President Elect (2004-2006) and later as Past President (2008- 2010).  These years were times of significant growth and change for NLASW which included transition to new legislation.  Throughout the process, Ian’s steady leadership and support was of tremendous value to the board of directors and staff. Following his term on the NLASW board of directors, Ian served two terms on the board of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (2010 – 2015). While serving on the board he also contributed to the CASW Private Practice Interest group.

Ian continues to be an inspiration to all who have the pleasure of working with and learning from him.  His colleagues at the provincial Public Service Commission state: “He models competent, professional practice and will inspire you to do your absolute best.  He will support you when you struggle and celebrate with and for you when you succeed.  Ian was operating from a strengths based perspective in his leadership long before we were calling it that” 

Social workers in Newfoundland and Labrador congratulate and extend best wishes to Ian Shortall, the recipient of the 2017 Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for this province.

Pamela Miller, BA, MSW, Ph.D

British Columbia Association of Social Workers

BCASW is pleased to announce that Dr. Pamela Miller is awarded the BC CASW Distinguished Service Award for 2017. Pam is known as an insightful and effective leader, a strong advocate for the profession of social work, and a kind, generous, humble, and compassionate person. Her lengthy social work career focused on teaching and a scholarly interest in eLearning and use of information technology in practice, ethical decision making, community development, and leadership in human services.

A strong commitment to professional social work practice and the promotion of the profession led Pam to serve at the executive level in two provinces.  Pam served as Vice President of the BCASW from 2008 to 2009, President from 2009 to 2011, and Past President from 2012 to 2016. Prior to moving to BC from Alberta in 2008, Pam served as an elected member of the Alberta College of Social Work Council from 2001 to 2003 and as President of the Alberta College of Social Work from 2004 to 2007. Pam's leadership skills and recognition among her peers led her to the role of Chair, Canadian Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work from 2009 to 2012.

During her time on the BCASW Board, Pam facilitated the Association's engagement in lobbying the Government of British Columbia to:

  • Increase housing options for people with complex health care needs,
  • Restore the BC office to combat trafficking in persons,
  • Include the use of social workers through WorkSafeBC,
  • Increase social assistance rates, and
  • Heed recommendations made by the Representative for Children and Youth in BC.

Pam's contributions to practice are evident in the dozens of scholarly publications and delivery of professional development workshops. Her publications include an article describing the benefits of online chatting for single moms (2007), a book on ethical decision making in social work (2012), and an article on leadership in social work (2011).

Pam retired as a full professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Victoria in 2016.

Vanessa Rankin

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

This year’s theme for National Social Work month is more than fitting for our nominee, Vanessa Rankin.  Vanessa has, without question, demonstrated the ability to motivate and create change within our Association following a challenging period.  Vanessa innately and professionally encompasses the core values and principals of social work practice; modelling on an ongoing basis to the members her passion for the profession and what it stands for.

Vanessa, without hesitation, has always stepped to the forefront, taking on roles and responsibilities beyond her requirements and worked tirelessly to promote the profession across all three territories, with this year having all Board positions filled in all three territories.  Vanessa is engaging, energetic and remains at the forefront of social justice issues in the north.  We would like to honour Vanessa for her leadership, dedication and her “Power to Empower.”


Anne Mothersill

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Anne Mothersill, MSW, RSW (BC) been a social worker for over 30 years. She started her Social Work Career with Alberta Family and Children Services in 1983. She moved to Whitehorse, Yukon in 1995, where she worked for the Yukon Territorial Government, Family and Children services from 1995 to 2015. Initially she worked as a Social Worker and then as a Supervisor of a Family Services Team for the past ten years. She has worked primarily in the area of, child protection in areas of guardianship, foster care and adoption. She has always been keen to train staff and students, both as a competency based trainer for the Core Child Protection Training and as a Practicum Supervisor for BSW students.  She has supervised many of the BSW students in their Practicum Placements at Family and Children Services. Many of the students became colleagues and peers. She retired in June 2015.

Anne started teaching as a Sessional Instructor at Yukon College/University of  Regina BSW program in 2003 and has taught Social Policy (SW 469)  and Human Growth and Development  (SW 421) and Introduction to Social Work (SW 200).   She has served as a board member as a Director for the Association of Social Workers of Northern Canada and sits currently is a member of Yukon College President’s Committee on BSW Programming. Her other interests include travel, music and being in the great outdoors.

Carol Ross

British Columbia Association of Social Workers

Carol Ross has been a stalwart, patient, and effective voice on behalf of BC’s children and families for many years.  Her social work history began in 1969 and crosses three provinces (Ontario, Alberta, BC) where she honed her skills and cemented her commitment to ending poverty, violence against women and children, and all forms of discrimination and oppression. This work included adoption social work, family therapy, child protection case work, feminist organizing, developing The Advocacy Centre in Nelson and finally as ED of Parent Support Services Society of BC.

Carol created an approach to child protection advocacy that was innovative, collaborative, family inclusive and successful. She has researched Child Protection Advocacy; Law and Kinship Care; and Child Protection Advocacy Best Practice as well as developing programs and resources identified.

Carol continues her advocacy work through her role as Child Protection Lead for BCASW. Carol is recognized by members, coalition partners, media, and government as an expert and advocate for children and families.

Charmaine Wight

Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers

The recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for 2016 is Charmaine Wight MSW, RSW.  This award recognizes her significant commitment to the social work profession and her contribution to the field of mental health and addictions in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Charmaine graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Memorial University in 1986 and a Master’s degree in 2000. She began her career as a social worker with the Salvation Army Wiseman Centre in St. John’s which at that time was an emergency housing shelter for young men.  This position was the beginning of a thirty year career focused primarily in the field of addictions and mental health.  Initially working in direct practice then assuming positions such as Regional Addictions Services Coordinator with Drug Dependency Services for the Central region, Manager of the Mental Health Program for Central Health and most recently as the Regional Manager of Community Supports and Residential Services.   She has been committed to the advancement of services in her areas of practice by extending her roles to include being co-chair of both the Committee Against Family Violence and the Mental Health Accreditation Team.  She gives of her time to the community and to the profession.  For the past twenty years she has been an active member of the Committee Against Family Violence and for the last decade an active member of the Salvation Army Advisory Committee.  Charmaine has been the NL Association of Social Workers representative to the Canadian Association of Social Workers Health Interest group working to address social work and health care issues at a national level.    

Throughout her career Charmaine has been dedicated to mentoring and supervising, providing field instruction for social work students and supervising many social workers.  Charmaine has a solid understanding of the profession.  She integrates social work theory and practice and is noted to be a skilled supervisor assisting supervisees to grow professionally with a clear focus on the needs of clients.  The nomination for the CASW Distinguished Service Award was put forth by her staff which is a testament to the high regard in which she is held by those who work with her on a regular basis.  Her nominators state “As our manager Charmaine inspires us to be the best that we can be through living by example.  She has very high standards for her practice, striving for the best possible outcomes…she has a way of simplifying the most challenging tasks…She is an inspiration to our team, our community and represents the profession of social work with honour and pride!”

Charmaine Wight is truly a “distinguished” social worker and a credit to our profession.

Darlene MacDonald

Manitoba College of Social Workers

With more than 30 years of experience in child welfare, Darlene MacDonald is a skilled and steady leader known for her professional, fair, and collaborative approach to improving the lives of children, youth, and families. Her depth of knowledge of the child welfare system stretches from frontline work, through increasing levels of management responsibility, and to her current role as Manitoba’s Children’s Advocate, a position she has held since 2011. Darlene has not only dedicated her career to improving outcomes for families, but she also continually strives to create healthy work environments for her staff members and values innovative solutions in both service delivery and staff support.

Respected by colleagues across the country, Darlene has held leadership positions at the national level including serving as president and then board member of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), president of the International Federation of Social Workers – North American division (IFSW), as a board member of the Child Welfare League of Canada (CWLC), as a member of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA), and of the Manitoba Institute of Registered Social Workers (MIRSW) and its successor, the Manitoba College of Social Workers.

Heather Fikowski

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Heather Fikowski, MSW, RSW is a Social Work Instructor in the Health and Human Services Program at Aurora College, Yellowknife/North Slave and she represents the Northwest Territories (NWT) on the Executive of the Canadian Rural Health Research Society.  Heather has lived and practiced social work in the NWT for the last 14 years and she also maintains a clinical social work practice in Yellowknife. She is a strong advocate for social justice issues in the NWT and is a current member of the Coalition Against Family Violence NWT and the Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada. Her research interests include women’s issues, family violence, and rural and remote social work practice. As Co-Academic Investigator of a five year (2011/2016) Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funded qualitative research project, titled “Rural and Northern Community Response to Intimate Partner Violence”, Heather is breaking the silence on intimate partner violence in our Northern communities. She brings a critical social work lens and an action oriented approach to this research with the goal of utilizing the results to share information, increase awareness and affect social policies to help move toward non-violence in Canada’s North. Heather has presented her research findings in all three Territories, in Edmonton, AB at the Canadian Rural Health Research Conference and in Oulu, Finland at the Congress for Circumpolar Health. She has also been invited to present at the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2016, to be held in June, in Seoul, Korea where she will bring a Canadian and Northern perspective to the discussion of the theoretical and practical issue of “Promoting the Dignity and Worth of People”. 

Mary Beth MacMillan & John MacMillan

PEI Association of Social Workers

Rina Arseneault

New Brunswick Association of Social Workers / L'association des travailleuses et des travailleurs sociaux du Nouveau-Brunswick

Rina Arseneault has been the Associate Director of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research since November 1993. She has a Masters in Social Work and is a Registered Social Worker. From 2001 to 2003, she worked in the Psychiatry Emergency Services and at the HIV/AIDS Clinic at the Ottawa Hospital.

She is recognized as an activist and educator on women issues. She has organized numerous training opportunities and workshops. She contributed in the development of the 8-course credited UNB Certificate Program in Family Violence Issues and she has also taught courses in the program.

Her experience includes extensive work with community - organizations, individual researchers, government agencies, the media and victims of violence. In 1997, Rina was honoured with the NB Advisory Council on the Status of Women Recognition Award for her contribution to improving the status of women in New Brunswick. In 2002, she received the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation Award, for her work in violence against women and family violence. In 2014, Rina was appointed to the Order of Canada.  The Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest civilian honours, recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. 

She is recognized for her contributions as a researcher, activist, author and educator working to end family violence. Rina currently resides in Fredericton, NB with her husband Dan. She loves to spend time with family especially her five beautiful grandchildren.

Shawna Hoyte

Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

Ms. Hoyte has contributed to the fabric of Nova Scotia and Canada for over forty years through her work with individuals, families, communities, grassroots organizations and government. The focus of her practice is social justice and access to justice on behalf of the marginalized, disenfranchised, low income and oppressed people of our society. She brings a unique approach to her work as a social worker because she is also a practicing lawyer and utilizes the law to provide a very holistic approach to challenges faced by those she works with and on behalf of. In 2008, she argued the case of L.T.H. at the Supreme Court of Canada which focused on the rights of youth and changed the procedural practices of police authorities in Canada when interviewing youth. As one of nine members of the National Task Force for equality in hiring in the Federal Government Treasury Board of Canada, Ms. Hoyle assisted in the strategic work plan entitled, Embracing Change: Hiring Visible Minorities in the Federal Public Service. Shawna was recently appointed by the Premier's office of Nova Scotia to sit as the African Nova Scotian Community representative on the Council of Parties for the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry to investigate the historical abuse of former residents of the Colored Home.

Shawna continues to contribute to social work practice in Canada as an educator. She has taught at the Dalhousie School of Social Work (DSSW) in Cross Cultural Studies. She redesigned the social Work and Law course which she teaches on campus and as a distance course with BSW students from coast to coast. She is often called upon as a guest speaker and lecturer for other courses at the DSSW, as well as, being an Agency Field Advisor to both BSW and MSW students since 2003. Shawna has practiced social work as a clinician at the IWK Health Centre since 2006. She recently assisted with the redesign of the IWK Emergency Department — Emergency Mental Health and Additions Services crisis/psychiatry assessment tool. Shawna has presented on numerous occasions, over many years, at both National and local Social Work Conferences on issues of child protection, youth criminal justice, human rights and family services. She is a published researcher and writer on a number of topics and runs a small private practice in Dartmouth NS. Ms. Hoyte has been a volunteer Board member to many organizations and has held positions of responsibility such as president of the Board of Directors for the Community Justice Society of Halifax.

Additionally, Ms. Hoyte was a member of the Board of Examiners and the Discipline Committee of the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers from 2007—2009. She is currently a member in good standing with the NSASW. Shawna holds the distinguished Queens Counsel designation as a lawyer and is a member in good standing with the Nova Scotia Barrister's Society and is a member of the Canadian Bar Association.


All past and present MASW and MIRSW Members

Manitoba College of Social Workers

Alphonsine Saulnier

Nova Scotia College of Social Workers

Carole Bryant

Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers

Frank Bulger

PEI Association of Social Workers

Glen Schmidt

British Columbia Association of Social Workers

Lynn Sparks

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Mary Bishop

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Rachel Hollingshead

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada

Suzanne Brake

Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers


Albert Gauvin

New Brunswick Association of Social Workers / L'association des travailleuses et des travailleurs sociaux du Nouveau-Brunswick

The Board of Directors of the NBASW is proud to nominate Albert Gauvin for the CASW Distinguished Service Award. Albert Gauvin is a retired social worker and a member of the Restigouche Chapter of the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers (NBASW). Prior to retiring, in 2007, Albert had a remarkable social work career in the hospital field and, on different occasions, he served on the Board and several committees of the NBASW throughout his extensive career.


Early in his career, Albert was Head of the Social Work Department of the Campbellton Hospital and, at one point, headed the Social Work Departments of two hospitals, before ending his career as Head of the Social Service Department of the New Campbellton (NB) Regional Hospital. In addition to overseeing the implementation, the planning and the management of the department, he was also responsible for the professional supervision of the social workers on his team.


He was passionate about management and professional ethics, and he successfully guided and motivated a good number of social workers to take up one of our profession's specializations in the areas of health care and palliative care. Albert was an exemplary force in the development and coordination of end-of-life social services.


He is a leader who is able to share his extensive knowledge, all the while being proud of promoting the social work profession. He holds several certificates in management and supervision and sees it as essential to continue learning in this ever-evolving profession.


Throughout the years, Albert demonstrated his devotion to the advancement of our professional association by serving on its Board for more than 12 years; by sitting on the Management Committee for more than 7 years; by serving 2 terms on the Disciplinary Committee, and presiding over several disciplinary hearings.


Despite his passion for dogs, woodworking and gardening, he is so devoted that, even in retirement, he once again joined the Board of Directors of the NBASW as Director of his chapter, Chair of the By-Laws Committee and Member of the Management Committee. He also served on the Complaints Committee for a long period and his involvement has been deeply missed since his term expired in the spring of 2013.


He was the recipient of the Social Worker of the Year distinction in 2001 and of the Raoul Léger Award in 2002. Albert remains a driving force for all social workers in the Province. His charisma and dynamic personality are but a few of this accomplished social worker's assets. Congratulations, Albert!

Barb Nimco James

Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada