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Yearly Archives: 2021

Addressing Social Policy Concerns in 2021: SOCW 3000 Course Reflections

Dr. Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov

Today I finally submitted grades for approval, just a few hours before the deadline. I am very proud of students, who despite multiple challenges were working extremely hard to complete their social policy papers and addressing concerns with affordability, accessibility, adequacy and other social policy “A”s to improve services for diverse populations in Canada through the lens of social work values. In New Year I will put a call for the new issue of student social policy journal and hope to publish 8 students papers to highlight their exceptional research skills to generate the needed change. For now, I will take a break for a few days and celebrate before I go back and check hundreds of e-mails that were accumulated when I was focusing on grading. Here are some of the topics that kept me busy over the last few weeks and students for the last few months. I know students will keep learning and building their skills to address those concerns in the future. This year one of the students reminded me of one of the phrases I often said in class: Keep it going! Students will keep their passion going and bring the needed changes through their lifelong work. Happy holidays to all. My 16th year of teaching in Canada is now coming to the end. I still love it, no matter how challenging teaching becomes in times of pandemic, students allow me to have hope that all will be OK!

Social policy concerns that keep students busy and require me to keep up with all the current research on each topic:

  • Accessibility of Funding Services Available for Indigenous Governments to establish and maintain their own child welfare agencies in BC     
  • Accessibility of Inclusive Community Supports Following the Deinstitutionalization of Adults with (dis)Abilities in BC
  • Accessibility of Indigenous Healing Methods in Substance Use Treatment Centers for Youth and Young Adults in Canada
  • Accessibility of Mental Health services available to Adults in Nunavut
  • Accessibility of mental health services for homeless individuals in British Columbia    
  • Accessibility of Mental Health Services for Seniors in Canada            
  • Accessibility of Substance Abuse Treatment Services in rural Indigenous communities in BC
  • Accessibility of substance use treatment for youth in BC     
  • Accessibility to Housing for individuals experiencing homelessness in BC       
  • Accessibility to Interpreters in BC court systems for deaf individuals 
  • Accountability for Indigenous Youth Aging out of the System in British Columbia
  • Adequacy and availability of diversion programs for youth in BC through the YCJA      
  • Adequacy of accessibility services for post-secondary students with diverse abilities in British Columbia
  • Adequacy of accessibility services for university students in British Columbia
  • Adequacy of food security programs for Indigenous peoples living in remote Nunavut communities.     
  • Adequacy of Gender Expression Policy for Incarcerated LGBTQ2S+ Individuals             
  • Adequacy of Gender-Based Sexual Violence Health Services in Rural Alberta
  • Adequacy of Health Care in British Columbia for Indigenous People
  • Adequacy of Indigenous Professional Representation in the Health-care Field in Canada              
  • Adequacy of Long Term Care for Dementia Patients in Canada          
  • Adequacy of Mental Health Care for Indigenous Youth Living in BC  
  • Adequacy of Perinatal Depression Supports for Women in BC
  • Adequacy of Personhood within Residential Care Regulations for Older Adults using Long-Term Care facilities in Long-Term Care in British Columbia   
  • Adequacy of Protecting Sex Workers Rights in Canada         
  • Adequacy of Residential Services for Youth in British Columbia
  • Adequacy of Services for B.C. Youth Ageing Out of Care                      
  • Adequacy of Services for Newcomer Survivors of Gender-based Violence in British Columbia            
  • Adequacy of Supports for Persons who have Experienced Psychiatric Deinstitutionalization in British Columbia
  • Affordability of Addiction Services for Young Adults in British Columbia
  • Affordability of pet-friendly Housing for low-income British Columbians        
  • Appropriate services for the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system
  • Appropriateness of services for people experiencing homelessness in the city of Kamloops              
  • Appropriateness of the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care in Canada 
  • Availability of Clean Drinking Water in Indigenous Communities
  • Availability of land rights protection for Indigenous peoples in the unceded Secwepemc territory.
  • Availability of neurodivergent friendly adventure tourism in the Bow Valley  

Open Letter: TRU Investigation

Dear Dr. Fairbairn TRU President,  Honourable Anne Kang Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, Members of BC Legislative Assembly, TRU Senate and Board of Governors:

I am writing this letter to call for action responding to the many members of the TRU community who expressed their serious concerns regarding the TRU investigation process. Over the last few weeks, I have compiled news sources over the public outcry from multiple TRU stakeholders that asked the TRU Board of Governors and TRU President to take immediate action and grant a paid administrative leave for two senior administrators due to allegations of sexual harassment, workplace bullying and anti-Indigenous racism (Week 1 coverage: https://krasun.ca/2021/11/28/tru-investigation-what-do-we-know-and-what-actions-are-needed/ Week 2 coverage: https://krasun.ca/2021/12/07/tru-investigation-week-2-tru-administration-silences-tru-communities-and-happy-holidays-actions/ )

Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association (TRUFA), Thompson Rivers University Staff (CUPE) and Thompson Rivers University students wrote letters, organized protests and demanded immediate action to protect vulnerable TRU community members. Unfortunately, both the TRU President and TRU Board of Governors have not responded adequately to the demands of TRU students, staff and faculty, resulting in even more public outcry with a higher level of distrust and inability of the Board to fulfill their mandate.

The letter sent from the BC Ministry Advanced Education and Skills Training on June 1st, 2021, to the TRU Board of Governors states that “every public sector organization is accountable to the citizens of British Columbia. The expectations of British Columbians are identified through their elected representatives, the members of the Legislative Assembly”. In addition, the letter sets five foundational principles to inform TRU institution’s policies and programs. Three of them: (1) Putting people first, (2) Lasting and meaningful reconciliation, and (3) Equity and anti-racism; have been jeopardized by the mishandling of complaints made against senior leaders at Thompson Rivers University.  Given that the accused occupy positions of power and trust, it is even more critical to step down from their duties to ensure a fair and impartial investigation.  The inactions from the Board of Governors and TRU President continue to inflict severe reputational damage and disrupt the workplace for all employees.

I ask the TRU President,  Honourable Anne Kang Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, Members of BC Legislative Assembly, TRU Senate and Board of Governors, to exercise due diligence and demand that those accused of workplace bullying, sexual harassment, and anti-Indigenous racism be placed on paid leave until the investigation of the complaints against them has been concluded.

With respect

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov, PhD

British Columbia Resident, Canadian Citizen

Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Human Service

Faculty of Education and Social Work Thompson Rivers University

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Elected Senator  

Education and Social Work (EDSW) Faculty Council Elected Co-chair  

Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association (TRUFA) Elected Co-chair Human Rights Committee  

Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association (TRUFA) Elected Member of Salary and Working Conditions Committee 

Canadian Association of Social Work Education (CASWE-ACFTS) Elected Board Director  

Canadian Association of Social Work Education (CASWE-ACFTS) Elected Co-chair Social Policy and Advocacy Committee  

human services Information Technology association (husITa.org) Elected Board Member  

International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) Life Friend Member (Canada)

International Association Schools of Social Work (IASSW) Individual Life Member (Ukraine)

TRU Investigation Week 2: TRU administration silences TRU communities and Happy Holidays actions.

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov

Thank you, everyone, for your responses and support after I compiled the first week’s media coverage about the TRU investigation: https://krasun.ca/2021/11/28/tru-investigation-what-do-we-know-and-what-actions-are-needed/ . After checking the outrage from TRU communities, I was hopeful that the TRU administration would make the most appropriate, acceptable, adequate decision and grant paid leave to two senior administrators who have been accused of alleged sexual harassment, anti-indigenous racism and bullying. Unfortunately, the TRU administration’s inactions have hurt the reputation of TRU communities. TRU administration has continued silencing every group, every individual who came forward to support the process and asked to remove senior administrators from their positions of power while the investigation is ongoing.

TRU Faculty organized the first protest on Monday, November 29th. Close to 100 people gathered at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) to advocate for those who came forward with allegations of discrimination and harassment against the university’s senior administrators. CFJC’ Amandalina Letterio and Jessica Wallace from Kamloops this Week reported on the peaceful walk. Both reporters featured students and faculty members who support victims of bullying and harassment. Law professor Charis Kamphuis spoke to both CFJC and KTW and attended the march on Monday. Charis Kamphuis said that “countless” additional people have contacted her with stories after news broke of the investigation. She cited inaccuracies in the TRU’s communications department’s response, including claims and allegations, taken seriously and addressed quickly. I attended the march with other faculty members and students and shared my appreciation to Charis for all the extra work she is doing to support the victims of violence.

I also want to thank all the reporters for their coverage to break the silence and everyone who left public comments on social media and wrote e-mails to support alleged harassment and bullying victims.  After the first protest, Jessica Wallace joined the KLW weekly video discussions and offered the latest update on the Thompson Rivers University investigation into senior executives. Armchair Mayor Mel Rothenburger shared a video and write-up on the Handling of the TRU investigation, which requires a delicate balance. Chad Klassen from CFJC reported on TRUFA Calls for TRU to waive non-disclosure agreements for all future harassment cases.  The story was picked up on the East Coast, where Kerry Campbell reported from Prince Edward Island (PEI) that the use of NDAs has created ‘culture of silence and fear’ on the University of PEI campus.

Jessica Wallace from Kamloops This Week reminded the local community that Another march planned at Thompson Rivers University in the wake of investigation. The hope was that maybe after two faculty protests, TRU administration would decide to listen to Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association (TRUFA) and CUPE 4879 whose press releases were shared by the Financial Post and Business Wire. They are calling for the two administrators to be placed on paid leave until the investigation wraps up.  The protest was planned just before the Board of Governors meeting to address the concern. Again, the TRU community came together, uniting faculty, staff and students and voicing concerns. Only 50 people were allowed to attend the Board of Governors meeting in person to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols, so very few public members stayed for the board meeting that had not even put the TRU investigation concern on their original agenda.

I was one of the 50 who witnessed how TRU students were silenced during the meeting. Ten minutes after the meeting and after realizing that no changes to the agenda had been made to include discussion about the TRU investigations, one of the TRU student’s leaders stood up and asked the Board of Governors to take the appropriate action and put senior administration on leave. The chair of the board of governors did not allow students to express their concerns and terminated the meeting, citing that the meeting had been disrupted when all TRU students present at the meeting raised and asked to be heard. Students were silenced when members of the board of governors left the room and held the rest of the meeting online. Sean Brady from Kamloops this Week titled the article Protesters force TRU board of governors meeting to end and reflected Board of Governor’s construction of the events. Fortunately, Castanet interviewed students and included student voices in their coverage: Protesters halt TRU meeting  

It was powerful to watch students rise at the Board of Governors meeting and ask questions about the TRU investigation and inaction. Unfortunately, TRUSU leaders now have also been silenced similarly to TRUFA and CUPE leaders. After everyone left the meeting, I came to say thank you to students, and although at this time their concerns have been silenced similarly to TRU faculty and staff, students have a lot of power. TRUSU represents thousands of students and can ask for support from students’ unions across Canada and demand appropriate actions aligned with TRU’s mission,  vision, and value statements. TRU administration cannot keep students silenced as they are the core stakeholder and their leadership need to be respected, and concerns be taken seriously.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the national federation representing more than 72,000 academic staff and professionals at over 120 universities, colleges, and institutes in all provinces, wrote a letter to the TRU administration. The letter was shared with TRUFA members and CBC to express to them and the entire Board of Governors CAUT’s grave concerns about the mishandling of complaints made against senior leaders at Thompson Rivers University. In the letter, David Robinson CAUT Executive Director, noted that “the decision to keep senior administrators active in their positions during the investigation casts clouds of doubt over the entire process. It also threatens to inflict serious reputational damage and disrupt the workplace for all employees”.

TRU Board of Governors at their December meeting demonstrated that faculty (TRUFA), students (TRUSU), and staff (CUPE) leadership and their actions have no impact on the decisions of the board, and their voices do not matter.  A video that the TRU president shared this week, in addition to the e-mail message from December 1 has no acknowledgement of the concerns expressed by TRUFA and CUPE and blames the media for raising concerns. Media plays a critical role in this investigation. The media made concerns public and allowed TRU communities to share their views. If media was silent like the Board of Governors, the toxicity that silences everyone who experiences abuse of power can be prolonged. The video from the TRU president was recorded before student leaders protested at the Board of Governors meeting and now demonstrates that the president is not willing to listen to student leaders’ concerns.

The question remains: What TRU staff, students, and faculty can do to keep the Board of Governors and TRU president accountable and listen to each group’s elected leaders? The answer is to work together and keep voicing their concerns. As we are entering the holiday season and the TRU administration might feel that the concerns will be forgotten in New Year, I hope TRUSU, TRUFA and CUPE will keep working together and reaching out to their communities and asking for change.

If you have time during the holiday season, please send the letter to your MLA, MP, City Councillor or to Minister of Education in your Province or anyone who might be able to stand up against bullying, harassment, anti-indigenous racism and other injustices that might be still unvoiced and invisible at TRU and possibly other universities across Canada (UPEI is cited in this letter). The letter can ask them to help hurt TRU communities, including TRUSU, TRUFA and CUPE members. The letter can also remind those who have the power to change that silence is toxic for victims of power abuse, and those who can act need to break the silence. Please remind those who have power, that at least 13 people at TRU voiced their concerns and initiated an investigation. During the holiday season, complainants and their loved ones will be waiting for ten months for TRU administration and the Board of Governors to make things right and put senior administrators on paid leave to allow a fair, transparent investigation process to begin. Happy Holidays and in 2022, I am hopeful the TRU investigation concerns will be addressed adequately, appropriately and acceptably for everyone who experiences bullying, harassment, indigenous violence and other forms of power abuse. Unfortunately, as was seen in week 2, when concerns were made public, the TRU administration chose to keep silencing TRU communities. Do not allow the silence to continue and protect TRU’s values, mission and vision when the Board of Governors and TRU President neglect TRU stakeholder’s concerns. I will keep updating and thank everyone who sent me your letters and the coverage of the TRU investigation to compile all the sources and keep my global communities informed about the process.