Community Social Services Worker
Rachel Watters started her career as a Social Worker in 2018 when she accepted a summer student job working for child and family service in her hometown of Inuvik. Having worked with the John Howard’s Society in Kamloops, BC as part of her social work education, Rachel learned community work early on by working with Indigenous offenders out on parole to support their reintegration into the community.
When asked what drew her to an education in social work, Rachel notes, “I knew that I was drawn to a helping profession involving healthcare. I was originally following and education path for nursing but the more classes I signed up for, the more I realized that I wanted to work with Indigenous communities, families and individuals”. Rachel quickly changed her educational path and completed a Social Work Degree with a specialization in child welfare. Rachel remembers thinking “It was the only thing I could imagine doing in the social work field at the time and can’t imagine doing it anywhere else right now but my home community due to the personal nature of the work.”
The social work profession comes with some challenges; “The most difficult thing about being a Social Worker in your home community is setting boundaries with people that you know; you need to take a step back from some of the relationships and assume the professional role so you can better support them. At the same time, there is already a level of trust and acceptance when you are from the community and that allows me to make an immediate connection to build the relationship, to start working together right away.”
This connection to people is what Rachel finds to be a big part of what is unique to northern practice: “All the support services (RCMP, schools, indigenous groups) work well together and can connect better given the small size of the community. Collaboration gets lost in a larger centre and you can’t always see the impacts of your work making change. I could never give myself fully to the clients in the south the way I can here.”
Rachel’s hometown allows for unique experiences outside of work. Rachel’s favourite part about living in Inuvik? - “What I enjoy the most is getting outside, especially getting out for runs in the 24-hour sun. I love that I have easy access to that outside time and I have close access to family and friends. No run-around like there is in the south when it comes to your free time. You can get almost anywhere in my community in only 5 minutes by foot, where else do you get that?”
So how does Rachel ever sleep with that true 24-hours sun in community close to the Arctic Ocean? “You do get used to the endless sun in the summer time. When 3am looks no different than 3pm for most of the summer, you learn to sleep in broad daylight! “
If you’d like to learn more about the current career opportunities as a social worker in the Northwest Territories visit our HSS Careers Page.