2 Years - 5 Semesters
Ontario College Diploma
Campus: Thunder Bay
Start Dates: Sep 2023
Program Code: 1223


The real you is rooted in your community. And we’re inspired by it. The Social Services Worker – Indigenous  Specialization program helps students gain the knowledge and tools they need to guide, support, and empower individuals, families and entire communities. 

Dedicated to student success, this program opens doors for the graduate to provide effective social service worker intervention from a holistic Indigenous lens.  The program prepares graduates with the tools necessary to support and address social, cultural and political issues to foster balance in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects for individuals, families and communities. With the combination of theory, hands on learning and fieldwork placement you will be prepared to work with Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations to overcome barriers.

Upon completion of your program, you’ll be eligible to register with the College of Social Work and Social Service Workers.

Are you a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and currently unemployed? If so, you may qualify for second career funding for this program! To learn more about your options and how to get started, contact us at studentrecruitment@saultcollege.ca

Requirements & Program Information

Ontario Secondary School diploma with Grade 12 English (C) ENG4C, or mature student status.

A mature student is someone who is 19 years of age or older by the first day of College and has not graduated from high school. You can still apply to the program and you have two options:

  • You can pay $25 to write the Canadian Academic Achievement Test (CAAT) for Math and/or English requirements only or
  • You can take Academic Upgrading for free to get your high school equivalency for Grade 12 English (college level).

If you have graduated from high school but haven`t been to school in a while, you are an adult learner. You still may want to consider free Academic Upgrading offered on campus to re-fresh your skills before the start of your program.

Educational Paths

Professional Designation

As a graduate of the Social Service Worker-Indigenous Specialization program you will be eligible for registration with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) http://www.ocswssw.org/en/default.htm , subject to applicable fees and membership requirements. The OCSWSSW is a professional regulatory body which recognizes and regulates the social work and social service work profession, creating standards of practice and a professional designation for anyone with the designation of social worker or social service worker.

Employment Opportunities

Upon graduation, you will bring a unique voice to your career that reflects a distinct set of knowledge and skills, demonstrating competence in the social services workers skill areas with a specialized focus on issues affecting Aboriginal people. You may find jobs in private, governmental and First Nation programs in areas such as mental health, education, youth detention, addictions, outreach, family services and social welfare with individuals, families and communities.

Further Education

Past graduates of the program have gone on to university in areas of social work, sociology, community development, teaching as well as specialized in addictions or Anishinaabemowin & Indigenous Studies. Each university may differ on which credits transfer and are eligible for advanced credit. You are encouraged to research your university of choice to determine if current articulation agreements are in place or how that university recognizes college credits.

As a graduate, you will also have the option of earning a three year Child & Youth Care Diploma in only two academic years. This dual diploma option is available according to a predetermined educational map that provides you with one full year of advanced standing in the CYC program at Sault College.

Clinical/Lab and Field Placement Requirements

Apply What You Learn

In the second year of this program, you will be able to gain valuable work experience and apply the things you learn in class by visiting and working in agencies, treatment centres, youth facilities, women`s drop-in centres, and other places where you can apply the skills you learn while studying with us. You will participate in a total of 550 hours of field placement in social service work settings during your second year.

You will need to complete and bring in certain forms at least one week before being scheduled to start your field work. Information regarding the requirements you will need will be sent to you once you are accepted into the program.

Mandatory Field Placement Requirements

You will need to do a police records search as soon as possible as you will be working with vulnerable persons during your placements. There is a cost to having this done and this can take a few weeks to months to complete. If you have criminal records please contact 705.759.2554 ext. 2560 for further discussion to determine whether a criminal record will affect the fieldwork requirement. Current Tetanus-diphtheria First Aid Certificate and CPR Level C WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)

Recommended: Hep-B Vaccination is encouraged Current Influenza immunization encouraged

There is a cost to taking some of these tests, and you will have to pay for these. Finally, you will need to have a G.P.A. of 2.0 or higher in order to be considered for placement.

Career Path

As a Social Service Worker - Indigenous Specialization (SSW-IS) graduate you may find employment a variety of private, governmental, and Indigenous Specific programs in areas of mental health, education, addictions, outreach, family services and social welfare.

As a graduate of the program you would bring the core skills required of a social service worker professional with a level of cultural competence to provide culturally appropriate services.

Fees & Costs


These fees are for the 2023-2024 academic year (year 1 of study), and are subject to change. Please visit your Student Portal to view your Schedule of Fees.


Program Coordinator: Michelle Sayers, (705) 759-2554 ext 2449, michelle.sayers@saultcollege.ca

This program is delivered off campus in Thunder Bay, ON.

Please Note: This is the new program name and program number for students entering the program in September 2019. It was formerly called Social Services Worker - Native Specialization - Program 1218.

Would you like to receive info on Sault College and our program information?