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Social Work Association of Graduate Students

What is SWAGS?

The Social Work Association of Graduate Students (SWAGS) is a student organization serving graduate students in the School of Social Work. Therefore, as a representative organization of graduate students, SWAGS not only voices students' concerns to their department but also serves as an important link between the graduate students and their department, as well as the Post Graduate Student Society (PGSS) of McGill University.

For more detailed information about SWAGS’ mandate and the governance structure, as well as how to get involved, please review the SWAGS Constitution (updated September 2013). If you have any questions or comments for SWAGS, please contact us at swags [dot] pgss [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca. You can also find us at our Facebook page as well.

 SWAGS 2013-14 Executive:     

We have open positions! Get involved! Email us at swags [dot] pgss [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca

  • Communication & Administration: VACANT
  • Finance: anne [dot] blumenthal [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Anne Blumenthal), MSW Student
  • Intra-University & Community: Vacant
  • Academic & Student Affairs Committee: VACANT
  • International & Out Of Province: odessa [dot] sherbaniuk [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Odessa Sherbaniuk), Q-Year Student
  • Social Justice & Advocacy: jodi [dot] proctor [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Jodi Proctor), MSW Student
  • PhD Representative: patrina [dot] duhaney [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Patrina Duhaney), PhD Student
  • MSW Representative: heather [dot] watkins [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Heather Watkins), MSW Student
  • Q-year Representative: cassie [dot] greenough [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Cassie Greenough), Q-Year Student
  • Social Events: brooke [dot] barrington [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Brooke Barrington), MSW Student & emma [dot] larson-ure [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Emma Larson-Ure), MSW Student

SWAGS Orientation Information:

Orientation Information:

SWAGS Meeting Schedule for Winter 2013:

SWAGS meetings will be held on a bi-weekly basis and will be open to all SWAGS members. Please contact us ahead of time if you are planning to attend and if you have issues you would like included on the agenda. Meetings will be held in Wilson Hall, please contact us at: swags [dot] pgss [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca for the meeting location.

  • November 6th, 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
  • December 6th, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

SWAGS Events:

SWAGS International Week Panel Discussion

Join us for a discussion on faculty and students' experiences of social work within international contexts. Featuring panelists Dr. Sarilee Kahn, Jaime Lenet, Mohammad Khan, and Katrina Heyde. It will be an opportunity for students to learn about opportunities, skills, and experiences in the realm of international social work.  For more information or to RSVP, contact odessa [dot] sherbaniuk [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca


SWAGS Digest

Do you have information to include in the SWAGS Digest?
We welcome any information related to events & announcements, internships & jobs, funding opportunities, workshops, calls for papers & conferences and training.

Please email information to heather [dot] watkins [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Heather Watkins) (Interim Communications).


Stay tuned - file to be uploaded soon.

Student News

SWAGS Newsletter April 2013

Please click here.  to read the SWAGS newsletter for April 2013.

SWAGS Newsletter Feb. - Mar. 2013

Please click here to read the SWAGS newsletter for Feb. - Mar. 2013.

SWAGS Newsletter January 2013

Please click here to read the SWAGS monthly newsletter for January 2013.

A Message from your 2012 CASWE Student Representatives...

This past May, Andrea Palmer and Victoria Burns attended the Canadian Association of Social Work for Education (CASWE) annual conference in Waterloo, Ontario as representatives of SWSA and SWAGS. In existence since 1967, the CASWE holds the conference to bring together hundreds of professors, administrators, field coordinators, students, practitioners, and researchers in the field of social work from all over Canada. Participants are encouraged to convene and present their work, share ideas, and engage in debates and discussions on pertinent themes such as social justice, social work education, Aboriginal social work, international social work, and creative or arts-based interventions to name a few.  The CASWE Annual General Assembly (AGM) that takes places during the conference serves as a forum to pass resolutions that advance social work education standards and practices across Canada.  Student members in particular also attend the student committee meeting which unites students on issues related to field placement, and learning objectives and gives them a voice within the larger association to discuss strengths and weaknesses in diverse social work curriculums. To learn more about Andrea and Victoria's rewarding experience, please click here.

2011 Annual General Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education in Atlanta Georgia

Doctoral candidate, Bree Akesson, and Assistant Professor, Nicole Ives, attended the 2011 Annual General Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education in Atlanta Georgia from October 27th-29th, where they presented their paper: "Self-Care in the Classroom: Preparing Students for Challenges in International Field Placements", which is currently in review for publication. The presentation addressed the fact that students are becoming more interested in global issues, and therefore international field placements are becoming more common in academic social work programs. Drawing on the international social work literature, curricula, and student experiences in field placements, the presentation provided a rationale and examples for including self-care in social work curricula with international content.

The Use of Service Statistics in Child Protection

Tonino Esposito presents at the National Research Conference on Child and Family Programs and Policy held from July 19-21,2011 at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.

The service statistics indicators project (SSIP) is a knowledge mobilization initiative between McGill University and eleven of sixteen child protection organizations across Québec, Canada. The proposed partnership has been developed to (a) better understand the dynamics and outcomes of child protection services and to (b) support child protection organizations capacity to bring together questions of evidence to the forefront of management and service delivery decisions. The presentation will address the following specific objectives: 1) describe the service trajectories and outcomes for children in the Québec youth protection system; 2) describe variations in service trajectories and outcomes over time and between Québec youth protection organizations; and 3) describe the integration of longitudinal and ecological analysis within Québec youth protection organizations to inform service planning and policy development. The rate of (a) recurrence of maltreatment (b) placement in out-of-home care (c) placement instability (d) reunification and (e) youth criminality will be reported for three longitudinal cohorts ranging from 19,500 to 55,000 maltreated children in Québec. The dynamics and trends underlying out-of-home placement, placement instability and recurrence of maltreatment will be discussed as well as how youth protection organizations can target services more effectively to children who have the greatest needs. The link to cross-Canada child welfare outcomes measurement initiatives will also be addressed.

Bree Akesson presents "The Power of Place" at TEDxMcGill 2010

Bree Akesson presents at TedXMcGill
TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share ideas. At a TEDx event, videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. TEDxMcGill is an event held in Montreal, QC promoting ideas worth spreading. The event is organized entirely by student volunteers at McGill University. As a guest speaker for TEDxMcGill 2010, bree [dot] akesson [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (Bree Akesson), spoke to an audience of approximately 600 people about the power of place for war-affected children. In the face of war, families often struggle to create safe environments for their children to grow, survive, and thrive. This concept of place – the environments where children live and play – represents a protective physical, social, and emotional space for children. Bree's TEDxMcGill talk drew upon the theory of place to explore the meanings behind safe (and unsafe) spaces for children and families affected by war. Using examples from her fieldwork in Chechnya, northern Uganda, and the occupied Palestinian territories, she showed the extraordinary link that war-affected populations - especially children - have to place. To watch video of the presentation, please click here.

Lise Milne & Kim Coleman present preliminary findings from ARC study

Assessing traumatic events in a child welfare population: multiple source informant comparison

ARC (Attachment, self-Regulation and Competency) is a trauma-informed flexible framework for working with youth who have been complexly traumatized (Kinniburgh, Blaustein, Spinazzola & van der Kolk, 2005). Inspired by this model, Dr. Delphine Collin-Vézina developed the ARC Trauma Project - a multi-phase, multi-method research study designed to measure the levels of trauma, relational issues, behavioural concerns and strengths of youth placed within residential services.

The ARC project is supported through the McGill CRCF. Data was collected through a sample of 53 youth ages 14 to 17 years placed in residential care at Batshaw Youth & Family Centres (BYFC). This presentation provided an overview of the prevalence and severity of trauma identified by youth through standardized self-report measures in comparison with the knowledge their workers had regarding their trauma. A third source of data, the BYFC reason for child protection services, was then correlated with the findings gathered from youth and workers. Finally, the results from the standardized youth trauma measures were compared with the projective drawings that were completed by the youth.

For more information on this presentation, please refer to:


Kinniburgh, Blaustein, Spinazzola & van der Kolk (2005). Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency. Psychiatric Annals, 424-430.

If you have news you’d like shared with the greater SWAGS community, email us at swags [dot] pgss [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca (swags [dot] pgss [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca)