“The workshop was exhilarating. We discovered things about ourselves that have been de-energizing us and keeping us from realizing our true potential. Now I feel ready as Principal of a large secondary school, to transform my school to an emotional haven, a quality learning institution.”

Marlene Smart
Trinidad and Tobago

“LPI training is where I was able to be myself, ask my questions, and feel safe. In my years of activism, I have never seen anything like this!”

Jasmine Lauzon, activist

“Your conceptual framework and its workshop series is the strongest structure I have yet to see that directly explores how to alter the delivery of human services through individual consciousness raising. This is critical work that will eventually alter, in a very profound manner, all our complex human interactions. This is material that applies to our daily lives, not just human services.”

Robert Brandstetter, educator


Dianne & Jana

I 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.

Dianne Hyles
Director LPI

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.

Dianne 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.

Upon 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 wisdom!).

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.

"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery"
Bob Marley

After 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.

In 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.

With 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.

Please join us in these transformative conversations. We look forward to your contribution and the opportunity to contribute to you. Let us journey together through a collaborative dialogue and a joint inquiry into liberation.

Jana Vinsky
Associate Director


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.



© Liberation Practice International (LPI), 2005