“… repercussions are immense and, in my view, this decision reflects a narrow view of the profession that excludes a national and international presence…”

Colleen Lundy’s November 19, 2010 letter to the OASW Board on its upcoming EXIT from the Canadian Association of Social Workers

November 19, 2010

To the members of the OASW Board of Directors

I have been a member of OASW since moving to Ontario in 1987. I am also the North American representative on the IFSW Human Rights Commission and have just completed a four year term as editor of Canadian Social Work. I consider myself to be an active member and have been proud of CASW and its response to social justice concerns both at the national and international level. I am impressed with the extensive process of consultation that CASW engaged in to further strengthen the association. I have read the Agora report and am aware of the changes that have already taken place in response to the recommendations that were agreed upon. The OASW communication to its members about concerns regarding the national association and the subsequent decision are perplexing and unsubstantiated.

I am deeply concerned regarding the decision made by a few, some who may have little background in the history of CASW. The decision to leave a national organization, one that the branch (later Association) has been a part of for close to 85 years, without membership awareness and input, is reprehensible! The repercussions are immense and, in my view, this decision reflects a narrow view of the profession that excludes a national and international presence. More than ever a strong national voice and international solidarity with colleagues around the world are critical to our own relevance, survival and growth. As social workers we are citizens of the world, closely connected to events in other parts of the world and each other whether it is through armed conflicts, ecological disasters, financial crises, or international health epidemics.

The International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) have taken a leadership role in advancing human rights and social justice perspective and work directly with the United Nations since 1945. IFSW represents social work associations in 90 countries and has been central in the promotion and protection of human rights. IFSW has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Withdrawing from CASW will not serve the association and its members well. I ask that the decision be rescinded. If it is not, OASW will cease to be an association to which I wish to belong. I will withdraw my OASW membership and join CASW directly.


Colleen Lundy, PhD, RSW
School of Social Work
Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6


One comment

  1. glenn drover

    Hello Bill,
    I would like to add a comment to the discussion on OASW’s decision to suspend membership in CASW.

    One reason for the decision is a reference to a survey which OASW undertook on CASW in 2008, Based on that survey, OASW claims that “the majority of OASW respondents reported receiving “little value” from CASW membership”.

    To assess that comment, I went back and looked at the survey. I do not understand how OASW came to such a conclusion.

    It is based, in my judgment, upon a very biased reading of the survey. In it, only 13.6% of OASW members stated that OASW’ s affiliation with CASW added ‘no value’ to their membership.

    By contrast, 41.3% said that it added significant or moderate value and 25.8% said that it had limited value. Another 19.2% said they did not have enough information to form an opinion.

    I do not read those results as a negation of CASW. If anything, they are an endorsement.

    Seems to me that OASW misconstrued the results of the survey or worst still, bent them to a predisposed decision.

    Glenn Drover