Celebrating the Contributions of Dr. Dorothy Emma Moore

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Celebrating the Contributions of Dr. Dorothy Emma Moore to the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University

Posted by IC on May 30, 2024 in News

The School of Social Work, Dalhousie University would like to pay tribute to the significant contributions of Dr. Dorothy Emma Moore who had a long career as a  Professor at the school formerly called the Maritime School of Social Work.  During her time at the school her work was informed by her deeply held values with respect to human rights and  
social justice.  As noted in her obituary, Dorothy taught the course, Social History of the Atlantic Provinces, for many years. She treasured her relationships with many members of the African Nova Scotian, Indigenous, and Acadian communities and worked as an ally with local pioneers in anti-racist education and affirmative action.  She was thrilled to see the changes in these communities over the years but realized that there was more progress needed to achieve a fair and just society.  Dorothy was a long-time supporter of the New Democratic Party and a consistent contributor to many charities.  She was recruited to the National Board of Schools of Social Work and assisted with distance education programs for social workers.

The three tributes below from the current Director of the School of Social Work, Dr. Judy MacDonald and two previous Directors, Senator Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard and Brenda Richard attest to her significant and lasting impact at the school and to her commitment to social justice.

Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard writes: As a lifelong advocate for human rights and social justice, Dr Dorothy Moore was one of the first forces in the school of social work to identify the need for systemic changes in the school if true system changes were to be made. She led the efforts to create pathways to change for Mi’kmaq, Acadian and Black Nova Scotians.  She also became a strong ally with many of the informal leaders from each of those communities, and lifelong friendships were formed.  Her advocacy and allyship were critical to my professional growth and development as a social worker and later as a social work educator.  From her leadership in creating Affirmative Action in Admissions, to building a more critical and culturally responsive pedagogy, Dr Moore was a person who led the changes she wanted to see.

It was Dr Dorothy Moore who invited me to co-present a paper with her and Lydia Lucas- White at the first national conference for social work educators that I attended.  We later published two versions of that presentation as articles, on the theme of the intersection of gender and race oppression. She was also instrumental in having both Lydia and I teach as Sessional Instructors at the school of social work for the first time, in the summer of 1987.   Two years later, Dorothy encouraged me to apply for the full-time faculty position that was open at the School.  The position was established as a designated hiring which was open to the three groups who were included in the School’s AA policy, as noted above.  I was the successful candidate and joined the Faculty in January 1990. Dorothy’s support for my career continued when she became my on-site supervisor when I started at the joint location PhD program at the University of Sheffield, in Sheffield England, in September 1992.  There are numerous examples of Dorothy’s influence in changing social work in Atlantic Canada and beyond, but I would suggest that many of the social justice work initiatives that we engage in today, in the social work field, have their roots in the courageous, unassuming leadership of Dr. Dorothy Moore. The Honourable Wanda Thomas Bernard, PhD, Independent Senator for Nova Scotia, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University.

Dr. Judy MacDonald writes: I first met Dr. Dorothy Moore at the Canadian Schools of Social Work conference and meetings. She was an impressive force within the Women’s Caucus standing up for women’s rights at a pivotal time in social work education. The group of women, including Dr. Moore, from the Maritime School of Social Work had a rememberable presence as they welcomed and supported young female academics to this critically important caucus. At the time, I had just begun teaching at St. Thomas University. Dr. Judy MacDonald, Director of the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University.

Brenda Richard recalls her recollections of Dorothy as a long-time colleague, were of her dedication to the persons and causes of those most disenfranchised in the world we inhabit, the high standards she set for herself and others, and her commitment and determination  that the goals of the School of Social Work be rooted always in the principles of social justice, no matter how lonely and fraught the path to realizing them might be .Dorothy was never one to give up on these essential beliefs and she stood on solid ground. Brenda Richard, former Director of the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University.

In our tumultuous world today, it is important to remember and celebrate the heroic efforts of those who have gone before us to keep fast our commitment as a School to work towards a better world.  So, we honour the contributions of Dr. Dorothy Emma Moore.