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Wanda Thomas Bernard


School of Social Work

Email: wanda.bernard@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-1190
Fax: 902-494-6709
Mailing Address: 
School of Social Work
Dalhousie University
Suite 3250, Mona Campbell Building,
1459 LeMarchant Street
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Gender
  • Racism
  • Well-being
  • Aging
  • End of life care
  • Spirituality and social work


  • BA, Mount Saint Vincent University
  • MSW, Dalhousie University
  • PhD, University of Sheffield


Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard has been a professor at the Dalhousie School of Social Work since 1990, where she held the position of Director from 2001- 2011. She was on leave from 2011-2013, focusing on her research and more actively engaged in community work. Dr. Bernard returned to full time teaching responsibilities in July 2013, and teaches in the area of anti-oppression at the graduate level and cultural diversity in the undergraduate program. She also teaches an elective course entitled Africentric Perspectives in Social Work at both graduate and undergraduate levels. First developed in 1999, the Africentric social work course is the only one of its kind offered in a School of Social Work in Canada.  

Her research with Black men and the violence of racism, particularly in the criminal justice system, has had significant impact on not only academic work but also agency and community-based practice. She was Team Leader for the Racism, Violence and Health study, funded by CIHR 2002- 2008. She has received numerous awards and honors for her trendsetting work, most notably, her appointment to  the Order of Canada in 2005 for her work on racism. Wanda is a founding member, and past president of the Association of Black Social Workers.

Dr. Bernard is a community engaged scholar who actively links her research, teaching, practice and community activism. She is the first African Nova Scotian to hold a tenure track position at Dalhousie University and to be promoted to Full Professor.

Dr. Bernard’s work on race, racism and the impact of racism has led to her involvement in human rights cases as an expert witness. She has been qualified as an Expert Witness in three provinces: Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia. 


Journal Articles

  • Bernard, W.T., Daniel, E., (2015). Social Work with Racialized Groups: Frameworks for Practice. In: James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 22. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 821-826. 
  • Bernard, W.T. and Butler, B., (2014) Teaching and Learning Across Culture and Race: A Reflective Conversation Between a White Student and a Black Teacher About Overcoming Resistance to Antiracism Practice. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Journal, Vol 4, No 2, pp. 276-297.
  • Bernard, W.T., Maddalena, V., Smith, D. and Njiwaji, M. (2014). The Role of  Spirituality at End of Life in Nova Scotia’s Black Community. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought, 33:3-4, pp. 353-376, DOI: 10,1080/15426432.2014,930622
  • Bernard, W. T., Issari, S., Moriah, J., Njiwaji, M., Ogban, and Tolliver, A. (2013) Othermothering in the Academy: Using Maternal Advocacy for Institutional Change, Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, Vol 2, 2, pp. 103-120.
  • Bonner, C. and Bernard, W.T. (2013) Kinship & Community Care in African Nova Scotian Communities, Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, Vol 1, 1, pp. 154-166.
  • Maddalena, V., Bernard, W.T., Etowa, J.B., Davis-Murdoch, S., Smith, D., Marsh-Jarvis, P. (2013). Assessing the Knowledge of African Canadians Regarding Options Available for Palliative and End of life Care Using Participatory Research. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, Volume 24 Issue 2 pp. 144-152, (home page is 10.1177/1043659612472190).
  • Este, D., Bernard, W.T., James. C., Benjamin, A., Lloyd, B. and Turner, T. (Winter 2012) African Canadians: Employment and Racism in the Workplace, Canadian Diversity, Association of Canadian Studies, pp. 40-43.
  • Beagan, B.L., Etowa, J., Bernard, W.T. (2012) 'With God in our lives he gives  us the strength to carry on': African Nova Scotian women, spirituality  and racism-related stress. Mental Health, Religion & Culture. 2012; 15(2): pp. 103-120. doi: 10.1080/13674676.2011.560145
  • Maddalena, V., Bernard, W.T., Etowa, J.B., Davis-Murdoch, S., Smith, D., Marsh-Jarvis, P. (2010) Cancer Care Experiences and the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine at End of Life in Nova Scotia’s Black Communities. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 21: pp. 114-122.
  • Bernard, W.T. and Moriah, J. (2007). Cultural Competency: An Individual or Institutional Responsibility? Canadian Social Work Review, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 81-92.
  • Etowa, J., Weins, J., Bernard, W.T. & Clow, B. (2007). Determinants of Black women's health in rural and remote communities. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, Volume 39, Number 3, September 2007, pp. 56-76(21)
  • Etowa, J., Bernard, W.T., Clow, B. & Oyinsan, B. (2007) Participatory Action Research (PAR): Improving Black Women's Health in Rural and Remote Communities. International Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 18: pp. 349-359.
  • Este, D. and Bernard, W.T., (2006) Spirituality Among African Nova Scotians: A Key To Survival in Canadian Society, Critical Social Work, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 1-22.
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas  and Hamilton-Hinch, Barbara (2006), Making Diversity Work: From Awareness to Institutional Change, Canadian Review of Social Policy, No. 56, pp. 131-139. 
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas, Enang, Josephine, Ekpo, Chioma, Joseph, Bertlyn; Bernard, Candace, and Wane Njoki (2000), She Who Learns Teaches… Othermothering in the Academy: A Dialogue Among African Canadian and African Caribbean Students and Faculty Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, Vol 2 (2), pp. 66-84. 
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas, (2000), Bringing Our Boyz to Men: Black Men’s Reflections on Their Mothers’ Child Rearing Influences, Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, Vol. 2 (1), pp. 54-65.


  • James, Carl, Este, David, Bernard, Wanda Thomas, Benjamin, Akua, Lloyd, Bethan and Turner, T. (2010). Race and Well-Being: The Lives, Hopes and Activism of African Canadians. Fernwood Publishing, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas (Editor) (2006) Fighting For Change: Black Social Workers in Nova Scotia, Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, Canada.
  • Dominelli, Lena and Bernard, Wanda Thomas (Editors) (2003) Broadening Horizons: International Exchanges in Social Work. London, Ashgate.

Book Chapters

  • Bernard, W.T. and Vincer, M.P. (2014). Africville: The Uprooting of Citizens from their Territory in Modern Day Halifax. In Reconfiguring Citizenship, Dominelli, L. and Moosa-Mitha (Editors), Surrey, England, Ashgate. pp. 45-54. 
  • MacDonald, J. and Bernard, W.T. (2014). Identity, Inclusion and Citizenship: Handling Diverse Identities in Social Work Curricula. In Reconfiguring Citizenship, Dominelli, L and Moosa-Mitha (Editors), Surrey, England, Ashgate. pp. 231-240.
  • Etowa, J., Bernard, W.T., Clow, B. & Odongo, L., (forthcoming). Racism and its impact on the health of African Canadians women: Perspectives from rural and remote Black communities. In “Legacy of the Crossing: Life, death and triumph among descendants of the world’s greatest forced migration.” Laviste, Thomas (Ed). 
  • Etowa, J., Bernard, W.T., Clow, B. & Weins, J.,( 2012). Defining Health: Perspectives of African Canadian Women Living in Remote and Rural Nova Scotia Communities. In Rural Women’s Health, (Eds) Leipert B., Leach, B., and Thurston, W., University of Toronto Press, pp. 287-.303.
  • Bonner, C. & Bernard, W.T. (in press). “Labouring for Change: Narratives of African-Nova Scotian Women, 1919 – 1990.” In Reid-Maroney, N. (Guest Editor). Women in the Promised Land: New Essays in African Canadian History. African Diaspora Cultural Series. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.
  • Bernard, W.T. (2010) Poor, Black and Female. In Feminist Journeys, Andersen, Marguerite (Ed), Ottawa, Feminist History Society, pp. 59-61. 
  • Bernard, W.T. and Marsman, V. (2009) The Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW): A Model of Empowerment Practice. In Structural Social Work in Action, Hick, Steven F., Peters, Heather I., Corner, Tammy and London, Tracy (Editors), Canadian Scholars Press, pp. 191-208. 
  • Bernard, W.T. (2009) Black Men in the Diaspora: resilient and Surviving but Still Catching Hell. In International Social Work, James, G.G., Ramsay, R., and Drover, G (Editors), Thompson Educational Publishing, pp. 81-102. 
  • Bernard, W.T. and Este, D., (2005) When gender and race collide: Black men’s Perspectives on Strategies of Resistance and Resilience. In Pathways to Resilience, Ungar, M. (Editor), Sage Publications, pp. 433-454. 
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas (2005) Black Women’s Health in Nova Scotia: As Viewed Through A Single Case Study in First Nations Women/Black Women/Women of Colour and Health edited by Sophie Harding, Calgary, University of Calgary Press, pp. 47-70. 
  • Fingard, Judith and Bernard, Wanda Thomas (2004) Black Women At Work: Race, Family, and Community in Greater Halifax, Mothers of the Municipality: ‘Women, Work and Social Policy in Post-1945 Halifax’ Judith Fingard and Suzanne Morton (Editors) Toronto, University of Toronto Press, pp. 189-225. 
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas, (2004) Bringing Our Boyz to Men: Black Men’s Reflections on Their Mothers’ Child Rearing Influences, in Mother Outlaws, Oreilly, A. (Ed). pp. 329- 340.
  • MacDonald, Nancy, Fay, Jeanne, Bernard, Wanda Thomas, Campbell, Carolyn, MacDonald, Judy, and Richard, Brenda, (2003) Managing Institutional Practices to Promote and Strengthen Diversity: One School’s Journey. In Shera, Wes (Editor) Emerging Perspectives on Anti-Oppressive Practice, Toronto, Canadian Scholars press, pp. 467-487.  
  • Este, D. and Bernard, W.T. (2003). Social Work Practice with African Canadians: An Examination of the African-Nova Scotian Community. In Graham and Al-Krenawi (Eds) Multicultural Social Work Practice, Oxford University Press, pp. 306-337. 
  • Bernard, Candace and Bernard, Wanda Thomas (2002) Learning From The Past/Visions For The Future: The Black Community and Child Welfare. In Nova Scotia in Community Work Approaches to Child Welfare, Brian Wharf, Editor, Toronto, Broadview Press, pp 116-130.  
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas (2001) Claiming Voice: An Account of Struggle, Resistance and Hope in the Academy. In Whitmore, E., Luther, R. and Moreau, B. (Eds) Seen But  Not Heard: Women of Color and First Nations Women in the Academy. Ottawa, Ont., CRIAW, pp. 61-70. 
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas and Bernard, Candace, (2000), ‘It Takes A Village: Building Networks of Support with African Nova Scotian Families’. In Valuing The Field, Callahan, Marilyn and Hessle, Sven with Strega, Susan (Editors), London, Ashgate, pp. 177-190. 
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas (2000) Participatory Research As Method: Challenges and Opportunities. In Research Training For Social Scientists (Ed) Dawn Burton, London, Sage, pp. 167-185.


  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas, MacDonald, Nancy and Wien, Fred, (2005). The Labour Market Experience of Social Work Graduates: Exploring the Role of Affirmative Action in Education, The Canadian Race Relations Foundation. 
  • Bernard, Wanda Thomas (2001) ‘Winning over Addictions’: Including Black Women in Health and Social Policy Development. Maritime Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, Dalhousie University. 

Other Scholarly Contributions

  • 2013 - Producer of the video: Food at the Centre: The ABSW Cookbook Story, Association of Black Social Workers, Halifax.
  • 2012 - Producer of the video: Gambling Awareness, Association of Black Social Workers, Halifax.
  • 2004 - Producer of the video: HIStory: Reflections on the Black Father-Son Relationship Across Generations, African Centred Research Group, Maritime School of Social Work, Halifax.
  • 1999-2000 - Consultant and Director for the production of the Multimedia Presentation: Media Representations of Africans in the Diaspora, Produced by David Roker and the Stop, Look and Listen Movement, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • 2015: Awarded the Harry Jerome Award Community Service Award for Excellence in Community Service.
  • 2014: Appointed to the Order of Nova Scotia, for work on social justice, race and racism.
  • 2012: Awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding volunteer contributions to the Country.
  • 2012: Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, Inducted as Decade Club Member.
  • 2011: Halifax Family SOS and ATV, Courage to Give Back Ambassador Award.
  • 2008: Dartmouth Senior Citizens Centre, Community Leadership Award.
  • 2008: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Halifax, Community Mentoring Award.
  • 2006: Canadian Progress Club, Women of Distinction Award: Research and Teaching.
  • 2005: Appointed to the Order of Canada, as Charter Member, for work on race and racism.
  • 2005: Inducted to the W.P. Oliver Wall of Honor at the Black Cultural Centre.
  • 2005: Named a Rebel with a Cause by the Elizabeth Fry Society. 
  • 2004: Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Award For Innovation in Diversity Education.

Selected Research Projects

  • Townsend, L., Mutale, E., Thomas Bernard, W. (January 2006). “From the Ground Up Needs Assessment.” Department of Community Services, $30,000.
  • Maddalena, V., Thomas Bernard, W., Etowa, J.B., Davis-Murdoch, S., Smith, D., Marsh-Jarvis, P. (2005). “A Rural-Urban Comparison of End-of-Life/Palliative Care and the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in Nova Scotia’s Black Community: A Pilot Study.” CIHR-NET Palliative Care in a Cross-Cultural Context, $7,000.
  • Townsend, L., Mutale, E., Thomas Bernard, W. (December 2003). “From the Ground Up Phase Two: Community Capacity Building.” Department of Community Services, $152,628.
  • Thomas Bernard, W., MacDonald, N. (January 2003). “Stop, Look and Listen: Developing A Multi Media Tool for Analyzing Media Representations of Aboriginal African People.” Office of Instructional Development, Dalhousie University, $1,000.
  • Thomas Bernard, W., Townsend, L., Mutale, E. (September 2002). “From the Ground Up: Community Capacity Building.” Department of Community Services, $70,970.
  • Keddy, B., Clow, B., Thomas Bernard, W. (October 2002). “On the Margins: Understanding and Improving Black Women's Health in Rural and Remote Nova Scotian Communities.” Canadian Institutes of Health Research, $538,275.
  • Keddy, B., Enang, J., Thomas Bernard, W., Loppie, C., Began, B., Gahagan, J., Egan, F. (July 2002). “Menopause and the Myth of the Strong Black Woman.” Nova Scotia Institute of Health Research, $145,000.
  • Thomas Bernard, W., Este, D., James, C., Amartunga, C. (March 2002). “Caught at the Intersection: Working With the Impact of Witnessing and Surviving Violence on the Health of Black Men and Black Women, Their Families and Communities.” Canadian Institutes of Health Research, $1,250,000.00 over five years.