In the company of more than 110 of his colleagues at a March 9 luncheon in Prince George celebrating Social Work Week 2011, longtime Quesnel social worker, Jeff Dinsdale, was named recipient of the prestigious Bridget Moran Advancement of Social Work in Northern Communities Award.
“I was really thrilled,” Dinsdale said.
“It was quite a surprise. The Bridget Moran Award has been awarded for many years. In previous years I’ve nominated others for this award, but never imagined I’d be a recipient.”
Bridget Moran was a tireless northern social work activist who was fired from her job in the 1960s for speaking out against the provincial government’s lack of appropriate social services for children and families. Although she won her fight and was reinstated, Bridget never went back to her provincial government job. Rather, she worked in other social work positions in health care and with the school district and became a well-known author with books such as Little Rebellions and Stoney Creek Woman. In memory of Bridget and to pay lasting tribute to her exemplary struggle for social justice, each year the Bridget Moran award honours an individual who has contributed to the advancement of social work ideals through:
•actively promoting the practice of social work and advocating for the profession of social work;
•maintaining consistently high standard for social work practice;
•ongoing engagement in social justice activities that help lead us to a more just and equitable society.
Reflecting the ideals that Bridget brought to her social work practice, Jeff Dinsdale has a long and rich social work career. He received his Masters of Social Work degree in the first graduating class at Carleton University in Ottawa in 1970. Since then Jeff has worked as a medical social worker in Montreal and a child protection social worker in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and in British Columbia. He established and directed the mental health centre in Quesnel. Jeff also worked part-time as an instructor for the College of New Caledonia, the University of Victoria, and the University of Northern British Columbia. Over the years he has supervised social work and social service work practicum students. He worked in a diverse private practice for the last 18 years of his professional career and is now “almost” retired.
“I’ve always said I’m really fortunate in choosing a profession I really enjoyed and which suited me,” he said.
“Knowing that you were potentially making a difference in people’s lives was rewarding.”
Jeff has resided in Quesnel since 1975 where he has been involved in a number of community social service and other organizations. He was the founding vice-president of the Quesnel Child Development Centre, President of the local branch of the CMHA, Director of the Quesnel Contact Line and Centre Society, President of the Quesnel Area Step-Up Housing Society, an active member of the Quesnel Family Violence Advisory Committee, the Quesnel Child, Youth and Family Network and the Quesnel Community Youth Team. He was also chair of the Quesnel and District Museum and Heritage Commission, past president of the Quesnel Blackwater Paddlers and current president of the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Association.
Jeff served two terms as the BC Association of Social Workers (BCASW) Northern Branch representative on the provincial board of the BCASW and one term as a member of the British Columbia Board of Registration for Social Workers. Throughout his professional practice, he has maintained a special interest in family violence issues/violence against women, the delivery of northern and rural health and social services and maintaining positive family relationships.
As for retirement, Jeff has much to keep him active and interested.
“I enjoy living in Quesnel, enjoying the outdoors, my sled dogs, grandchildren and the hope I can volunteer in a variety of ways. One of my real interested in history, especially local history,” he said.
Jeff represents all the qualities associated with the Bridget Moran Award. It was especially heartening that so many of his colleagues could be present, celebrating Social Work Week 2011 when Jeff received this special honour.
“It was a great way to exist my career,” he said.