Afolake Awoyiga talks about her 2nd year

A day in the life

Afolake Awoyiga talks about her 2nd year


I will bring social justice into my future social work practice by asking the right questions to discover the root causes of problems, advocating on behalf of vulnerable populations and constantly engaging in a critical self-analysis.

A new, critical and collective approach to social work

Compared to her native Nigeria, social work student Afolake Awoyiga sees Canada as a very individualistic society. Where she grew up, you were expected to be a member of your community first.

“We are all kind of accountable for each other. That way, you know all your neighbours and if something is going on, you get involved. You don’t even have to be asked. That’s how it differs.”

That’s hard to do when you’re a newcomer to Canada. With no friends or family nearby, settling in Canada can be a real culture shock. Not having people to relate to is a huge challenge for immigrants, she says.

As much as she loves Halifax, it took her years to make a home here. Afolake moved here in 2003 with her husband. She even started our program in 2008, but found it hard to manage a degree, two young kids and a full-time job.

Now that her kids are older and everyone feels settled, Afolake is finishing her degree. She wants to do social work with immigrants and marginalized groups, with a special focus on health care.

Afolake volunteers with the Diversity and Inclusion Unit of the Capital Health hospital system in Halifax. Immigrants face linguisitic and social barriers when they go to the doctor, she says.

Her experience with health care as an immigrant spurred her to start an independent study as part of her degree. She’s researching access to health care for marginalized groups in the city.

“My experiences are just one example. There could be many more out there of immigrants who are not getting proper access to health care because there are language barriers.”

Ultimately, Afolake’s goal is to inject more community into Canada, and into the lives of newcomers to Canada. How she’s going to do that has been informed by what she’s learned in this program.

"I intend to bring a critical perspective to my practice by not individualizing my clients' problems, but by making personal issues political, through seeking out other people with the same problem and finding creative ways to resolve their problems collectively.”