Carrier Sekani Family Services Celebrates the Accomplishments of Social Workers

Carrier Sekani Family Services Celebrates the Accomplishments of Social Workers

March 14, 2022

March 13-19 is Social Work Week in BC - a time to recognize social workers, and celebrate their accomplishments and all that they do. For us at Carrier Sekani Family Services, we want to recognize all social workers and our allies in building towards a brighter future for Indigenous children.

What better way to start Social Work Week than with a special letter from Yekooche Elder, Henry Abel Joseph.

“A letter to social workers in honour of Social Worker Week” - By Henry Abel Joseph


I am honoured to share with you these thoughts during this important acknowledgement, Social Worker Week. Your field of work is absolutely necessary and your efforts commendable. I acknowledge you as authentic allies to Indigenous children, youth and families through practices such as two-eyed seeing and the strength of combined ways.

What comes to my mind immediately is that: Children are Sacred. Our Elders and grandparents see us as children during our entire Life cycle. Therefore, practice the art of guidance and protection with the understanding that we fully know how to listen. It is a way of being, as reflected in the way we believe; that the child is precious from conception, in gaining strength during their time with mothers and onto their journey on Mother Earth. We are all responsible for raising every child with the gifts we possess.

I witnessed many times when my dad, Abel Joseph, would place his hand gently on my wife Lorna's tummy and sing, murmuring incantations very softly. When baby boy was born, my mom, Monique, being midwife, proclaimed the news in a loud voice, “It's A BOY!!!” My brothers, Art, Alfred and I were witnesses when our dad solemnly said, "This boy, I give my name, my possessions, my Keyoh and my Medicine Dreams." From that moment on, our collective responsibility was to nurture, guide, protect, and teach this child for his tasks on Mother Earth. That lends credence to respecting the saying, “it takes a Community to raise a child.” A healthy community is a community that can HEAL using cultural methods through ceremonies to regain our equilibrium. 

I thank you profusely, as I humbly submit my few small words for your scrutiny, perusal and possession for being authentic allies to Indigenous people through social work.

Thank you for your confidence in me to articulate this message, in the spirit of our Ancestors, with Children at the Helm.



Henry Abel Joseph


Social Worker Highlights

Sarah Cootes, Youth Services Manager

"I got into social work because I want to make a difference. I want to contribute to making the world a better place, even in a small way. Through my time here in CSFS youth services I have learned so much from our youth and my colleagues and I look forward to continuing that journey with my team. I also got into social work because I can’t do math!

Some of my best memories over this last year were seeing the youth actively participate in our cultural activities. We’ve had drum making, storytelling, drumming circles, smudging and an assortment of crafts. Seeing our youth reconnect to culture in small ways and how they light up when they do has been so heartwarming." - Sarah Cootes

Gavin Janzen, Youth Care Worker

Hello my name is Gavin Janzen and I’ve been pursuing my education for social work over the last few years, and I am currently a youth care worker at the Sk’ai Zeh Yah youth drop-in centre. I love my job and all the amazing and wonderful people and staff I get to work with on a daily basis. 

The reason I decided to get into this career path was to follow in the footsteps of my mother, Marilyn Janzen, and help others who need it the most and to get more involved with the communities that I grew up in and around.

CSFS has always been an active part of my life, such as putting on community events throughout my childhood and giving me a start in my career with the addictions recovery program in my own community’s (Nadleh Whut’en) back yard at Ormond lake, the same place where I grew up learning about my culture and my people. 

Carrie Ann Louis, Family Preservation Worker

My Name is Carrie Ann Louis. I have worked in community and at Vancouver Coastal for over 12 years in health care as a Community Support Worker, as well as a Palliative Care Worker. I now work as a Family Preservation Worker at the new Vancouver CSFS office. I have always had a passion for helping people – it is just something that comes naturally to me. People tend to gravitate towards me. I have strong beliefs about helping people find the best in themselves and let the rest take it from there. Kindness and compassion go a long way and if it’s not genuine, people see that.

I got into the social work field with drive and compassion because I want to see change and things improve for the better for our children and families. I know a lot of us are struggling and not all of us have family to fall back on. Just being able to provide support in any little way makes a huge difference. 

My favourite memory from working here in the past few months has to be Sandra Wilson’s open-door policy so that I can ask all the questions I need!

Rhianon Teegee, Walk Tall Supervisor

I am from Takla Lake First Nation, wolf clan. I got into the social work field because I knew I wanted to support my First Nations community members in some way. I have learned a lot in the almost-seven years I have been with Youth Services – thank you to Kayla, Amy, and Mary! 

My favourite memories with Youth Services have been the events we have hosted: culture camps and youth conferences. It is important to get youth connected to their culture and support them in being proud of their identity, and where they come from. At the culture camps we have had in the past, we make sure to do a check-out and closing on the last day to see how they feel after the camp. When the youth say they cannot wait until next year’s culture camp, and leave with feelings of joy and hope, it makes our hard work worth it. We have come a long way with Youth Services, starting from a team of four to now over twenty staff.

Julian Lowley, Intensive Youth Social Worker

After many years of finding my passion, I realized that I wanted to provide some type of social service to my community, especially Indigenous youth. So, I decided to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and become some sort of Indigenous youth liaison officer. I enrolled in the Criminology program at the college and started my journey towards the RCMP. In the meantime, I decided to look for a job in a related field and saw an advertisement for the youth care worker position at Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS). While the job intrigued me, I did not think that I was qualified so I decided to find a minimum wage job instead. 

Fast-forward to about a month into my courses, I receive a call from none other than Mary Teegee herself asking me to come in for an interview. I was taken back and thought to myself, “Wow! The Creator must have heard me. I guess this is a sign.” I later met with Mary, I did the interview, and I was offered the youth care worker position. Since then, I have learned so much about the social work field and realized that there is so much more I could do from a social work perspective rather than a law enforcement perspective. Plus, my colleagues all told me that I am “too nice” to be a police officer.  

After completing the Criminology program at the college, I enrolled in the social work program and eventually obtained my social work degree.  I have not regretted my decision once and I absolutely love my job as a social worker and love helping children and youth achieve their goals and connecting them with their culture.

My favourite word that I learned during my time working with CSFS is the Lakota word for “child,” which is “Wakanjeja.” It means, “One who stands sacred.” Our children and youth are sacred beings and it is our duty to protect and empower them. This is why I became a social worker.

Leila Wiebe, Family Preservation Worker

At the start, I never wanted to be a social worker. I had grand plans to go into IT. Then I had my son and my work has followed my passion to support families. I wanted to help families stay together. I have always held the ideal that everyone is welcome in a community, and we are all a part of a child’s life in some way. 

I took the Indigenous Human Services Diploma program to support my Indigenous knowledge and advocate for our families. I am now in year three and have learned so much, such as how to interpret cultural knowledge. I have decided the best way for me to support families is to walk in both worlds and to connect people. 

Besides my work, I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and aunty. I like to encourage my children to try different things, to harvest, to bear witness to cultural activities and try those activities. I want to allow my children space to work things out and what works for them. I believe the same message crosses over into many relationships in our lives. Our families need to be allowed to make their own decisions and decide what works best for them. We aren’t meant to be perfect, and once we realize that, we will fall into who we are meant to be. 

Kerri Leeson, Family Empowerment Worker

I’ve been a foster parent for the last 16 years, and I’ve been working in the Family Empowerment Program at CSFS for over 12 years. I think because I see the child welfare system from a few different perspectives, it made me want to make a change and be an advocate. I want to help make a better future for our kids in care.

I’ll never forget this one boy who I worked with… the little boy’s mother recently passed away, and he doesn’t have a father. It was a really hard time for him, and he completely shut down – he stopped talking and eating. To be able to advocate for this child and connect with him and allow him to grieve, I’m glad I was able to be there as a support, and to see him eventually come out of that dark place was so gratifying. I saw him at the grocery store later on, and he saw me and ran to me and hugged me. He looked up at me and said “I’m gonna make it.” 

Kayla Brownscombe, Youth Services Manager

Hadih! Siy Kayla Brownscombe, Sadnee. It’s an honour to be recognized during Social Work week, although I am not a social worker by profession or education. My education is a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care. I have been mentored by many amazing social workers and I’m taking this opportunity to recognize them. I am grateful for their teachings and guidance as I learned to integrate social work with child and youth care practice. 

During my 3rd year practicum, Randi Mondor showed me how to be respectful and build rapport during home visits. Randi also taught me to document with objective, strength-based writing even when there is complex family dynamics. 

After my practicum, I accepted a position as a Family Wellness Worker on Cheryl Thomas’ team. Cheryl taught me the importance of working collaboratively. She would say “we don’t do this work in isolation; we are stronger together.” Roxanne Vanzetta taught me the importance of long-term sustained relationships with clients. Roxanne stays connected with clients, and demonstrated what it means to “show up” time and time again. 

Later I became the Youth Services Manager in Prince George. While developing youth programs I looked to Sonya Rowland for leadership. She helped me to focus on quality services, despite the challenges we were facing at the time. Sandra Wilson and her team were always available for consultation and helped to ensure that Youth Services met the needs of our children and youth in care. Crystal Prince demonstrated authenticity, and would sing along to rock music in her office. Youth still say she’s a “cool” social worker. 

My favourite memories at CSFS are from culture camps. Joni Conlon never missed a camp! Joni taught me that culture is a protective factor, and that cultural connectedness is integral for the wellbeing of Indigenous people. Joni embodied cultural healing at camp, and role modelled cultural learning for youth. She was an amazing mentor and often the favourite camp chaperone! 

Barby Skaling teaches me how to create cultural safety by following protocol, honouring the Bah’lats system and speaking the language. Although she isn’t an official social worker, Barby weaves traditional knowledge and social work practice seamlessly. Her kindness and wisdom are foundational in my practice. Julian Lowley completed his BSW while working for the Walk Tall program. He’s a compassionate social worker and caregiver. He’s a language learner and teacher. Julian teaches me Nedut’en with humour and patience, Snachailya. 

In recent years I’ve been fortunate to have Amy Merritt as our Moodih (leader). Amy teaches me to be sustainable, emphasizing the importance of service-continuity for children and families. Amy expects nothing but the best for our children and youth, and her commitment to reconciliation is worthy of acknowledgement. Amy supports me to have a healthy work-life balance, and ensures I make time for self-care because she knows that I am a better helper and employee when I am healthy and balanced. 

These are just a few of the lessons I have learned from social workers at CSFS, and I hope every one of them feels the appreciation we extend to them this week!

Dr. Christina Dobson

I am honoured to be receiving the Bridget Moran Award. Bridget possessed a character trait that every social worker should have – she worked outside of the box and was a rebel when she needed to be for the wellbeing of the people she served. To think that I have even a little of her spunk is a good thing.        

I suppose like many social workers, the field chose me rather than me choosing it. I found myself working in a helping role that needed some postsecondary education to support it. The social work program at the University of Calgary seemed like a good fit for the work I was doing. I finished my Bachelor of Social Work in 1989, and I’ve loved the field ever since. After moving to Prince George, I wanted more knowledge and so I entered the Masters of Social Work program in 1994 and completed a doctorate degree in 2013. 

The most rewarding part of my practice has been when, on occasion, a past client has told me years later that our interaction made a positive difference in their life. I am mom to daughter Hunter Aislynn and son Jory Liam, who are my biggest fans, as I am theirs.




SIGN UP for monthly Goozih Eblast

Related Pages

Related Documents

Press Releases

Last modified: Friday 12-Jun-20 15:43:45 PDT