Decolonizing Social Work Education Through Indigenous Family-Based Research


  • Jennifer King University of Victoria



education, family, Indigenous, research, resistance


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.

Author Biography

Jennifer King, University of Victoria

Jennifer King (she/her) is Anishinaabe of mixed descent with ties to the Wasauksing First Nation, She has been working in areas of policy, public engagement, and research in support of Indigenous people for over 15 years. Jennifer has a master’s degree in social work and is passionate about the power of Indigenous knowledge, education, and research in promoting justice and equity.






Special Topics: Decolonizing Social Work