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want to welcome you to LPI. Please enjoy Jana's account of our story. In it you
will discover the principles of LPI training, and how it came into creation. I
look forward to meeting you, and joining with you, in your passion for individual
and structural transformation.
In 1999, I was
a 4th year social work student at Ryerson University and part of a student/faculty
group called the Social Work Anti-Oppression Coalition (SWAOC). This group was
an opportunity for students to dialogue across differences and to learn from one
another about various forms of oppression, as well as strategies for emancipation
and change. As a group, we were invited to be part of a committee at York University
that was looking at developing anti-racism material for Canadian Schools of Social
Work. This is where I met Dianne, the Director of LPI.
was a member of this committee through her position as Contract Faculty at York's
School of Social Work and her many years as a leader in the African Canadian community,
as well as an educator in the social work profession at large.
our meeting, we quickly engaged in a powerful conversation about issues commonly
found when teaching about race, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and the various other
social issues relevant to practice.
In the summer of 2000,
I attended the International Schools of Social Work conference in Montreal, also
as a member of SWAOC. As a group, we decided to attend Dianne's presentation on
a new practice approach she and her sisters conceptualized. Her sisters are also
educators within the human services, and have published widely. Between them,
they have accumulated over 70 years of international practice experience (and
During Dianne's presentation,
I fell silent. I was struck by the wholeness of this new approach. Although it
was rooted academically, it was clear that it was born of lived experience. It
felt very real and alive. The approach was practical and something I could utilize
not only with service users, but also with myself! It was holistic. It included
spirituality and emotional wellbeing and discussed the many ways of navigating
in the face of social inequality. Similar to SWAOC, it was about connection, emancipation
and change. Most importantly, it was about hope.
giving her a standing ovation, I asked Dianne to meet with me upon returning to
Toronto. I knew intuitively that I wanted be part of developing this approach
and felt I had something to contribute, but I wasn't yet sure what it was.
A month later, Dianne and I finally met. For hours,
I listened to Dianne tell her story as she recounted her 23 years
of experience in the School Board as a Black social worker working
with issues of diversity, empowerment and change. Dianne was committed
to integrating an analysis of power relations within all practice,
rather than diversity and oppression being "a special topic".
She also believed it was essential to be strength focused and to
champion resiliency. She was especially interested in supporting
individuals and communities to find their "personal power"
to become change agents in the face of social injustice. What was
particularly interesting to me was her holistic understanding of
individual and community healing as essential to political transformation.
our meeting, I found out that this new approach to practice was in fact not new
at all. Dianne and her sisters had been theorizing their practice experience throughout
their entire careers. They came from a family filled with social justice educators
and activists, who for generations, have been inquiring into the integration of
social justice, empowerment and equity principles within human service delivery
on an international level.
my own interest and commitment to building inclusive human service delivery and
my history as a social justice and empowerment educator, Dianne and I agreed I
would do my Master's work on her practice perspective, and some how tie it into
social justice and empowerment education.
I am pleased to
say that with the support of many people we were able to create what we now call
LPI training and have a growing team of instructors. This training includes various
frameworks for transformative practice and reflection processes to generate insight
that liberates and action that transforms.
join us in these transformative conversations. We look forward to your contribution
and the opportunity to contribute to you. Let us journey together through
dialogue and a joint inquiry into liberation.
See Jana's article on "Addressing Structural
Oppression in Social Work Practice" in The
Journal of the Ontario Association of Social Workers Newsmagazine.
Read it here.