Local social worker receives award

Deborah Pedersen reces Bridge Moran Advancement of Social work in Northern Communities award

Deborah (Lunden) Pedersen

Deborah (Lunden) Pedersen

-excerpts from Deborah Pedersen’s

acceptance speech after receiving

the North Branch of the B.C. Association

of Social Workers’ Bridget

MoranAdvancement of Social Work

in Northern Communities Award,

March 17, 2017

It was a surprise and an honour to

be nominated for this award, more

so to have been selected for this

award. It’s particularly meaningful

to me because I knew Bridget

who was a friend of my family.

To be considered for this award

has made me reflect on my career

which has spanned more than 40

years, beginning before some of

you were born in Quesnel. Having

been hired as a social worker with

what is now called MCFD at the

age of 22 with a bachelor of history

degree. At that time, I was one

of four social workers. The area

was divided into four geographical

quadrants; I was responsible for

all social work services including

adoption, financial assistance and

the full range of child welfare services

in the area from the city limits

north to Hixon, east to Barkerville

and Wells and all the territory in

between. I would take all my amazing

social work skills, jump in my

government Chevy Nova and go

off into the bush and complete the

annual visits required for recipients

of social assistance, deal with child

protection concerns, recruit and

support foster parents, deal with

struggling teenagers, etc.

You won’t be surprised that I

found it overwhelming! From time

to time, frantic with some concern,

I would go to my supervisor who

was patiently waiting to retire; he’d

squint one eye to keep the cigarette

smoke out and tell me that it didn’t

really matter what I did, it would

probably turn out the same in the

end! I wouldn’t have lasted the three

years I did without the guidance

and mentorship of Jeff Dinsdale

who worked there at the time. I decided

I was going to need a bit more

of a foundation and left to get my

BSW at UBC. On my separation

slip my supervisor wrote “burned

out”. I guess there must have been

a few embers still smoldering.

I realize that was a long time

ago but I’m still amazed at how

far we’ve come as social workers in

the north since then. Imagine that

now social workers can be educated

in the north and find fascinating

and challenging work in so many

different settings in the north. Our

work and education is informed by

research done in the north; Canadian

authors publish about Canadian

experiences. I’ve been very happy

to have been able to make a small

contribution to that.

However, we still have lots to do

in furthering the profession here in

the north and elsewhere. Thank you

so very much