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Disaster readiness conference March 30

Researcher Julie Drolet brings international and local experts in disaster recovery together for a March 30 workshop, designed to share information with Alberta social workers to prepare for disasters and to build connections.


Drolet says it's important for social workers to be ready for the next disaster, because climate change is making the "next one" inevitable.

Registration Link: $25

When speaking about communities affected by natural disasters like the 2013 Alberta floods or last year’s Fort McMurray wildfires, people often throw around words like “recovery” and “resilience.” These words seem singularly appropriate, but they also suggest these events are almost momentary issues – unpleasant blips that a community will spring back from, kind of like a squeezed foam ball.

University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work researcher Julie Drolet, PhD, uses those terms in a much more nuanced way, reflecting her deep understanding of the issue. “I think increasingly the thinking is that communities are never really the same after a disaster,” says Drolet who is based at the Faculty’s Edmonton campus. “I think that increasingly the feeling is you return to a new ‘normal’ –  a different ‘normal.’ An experience like that is more like journey, you arrive somewhere else and things will never really be exactly the same as they were.”

Increasingly important roles for social workers during disasters

Drolet is one of the leaders of The Rebuilding Lives Post-Disaster Research Partnership (RLPD) and Alberta Resilient Communities Project (ARC), which are both focused on the realities and challenges of disaster recovery for individuals and communities.  Building on recent research, it is evident that social workers are playing an increasing role in disaster preparedness, emergency relief, and long-term recovery. On March 30th in partnership with the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW), Dr. Drolet is organizing a special workshop called Social Work Connections for Disaster Recovery funded by a new SSHRC Connection grant.  This province wide discussion aims to share Alberta and international research on disasters and community recovery. 

Disasters as the new "normal"

The goal of the work-shop is to build new connections to help social workers prepare for disaster and community recovery and to build capacity across Alberta for the next disaster – which she says should really be part of what she describes as our "new normal."

“We’ve seen it over the last few years,” says Drolet, “climate change is contributing to natural disasters like the wildfires and the floods we experienced. Most experts believe this will happen again so we need to be ready, and social workers play a key role before and during a disaster and in long-term recovery, which can take much longer than people think.” 

Building a disaster-ready network in Alberta

Social Workers attending the March 30 workshop in Calgary will learn about disaster recovery in Alberta and internationally and hear from Alberta and international researchers who will share their findings drawing from provincial, national, and international disaster recovery efforts. The presentations will highlight the role of social workers in prevention, preparation, emergency relief, and long-term recovery.  E-prep (emergency preparedness) skill-building will be the focus of the afternoon sessions along with a forum to discuss a future network with the Alberta Resilient Communities Project ( The workshop will feature the realities and challenges of disaster recovery for individuals and the community across the lifespan, discuss ‘green social work’ approaches, and build emergency preparedness skills.


Workshop Information 


Registration Link:

Cost: $25


Maximum Participants:  60 * Due to the low registration fee NO refunds for cancellation will be given.




Julie Drolet, PhD, MSW, BSW, BA, RSW:

Dr Julie Drolet is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary's Central and Northern Alberta Region (CNAR) in Edmonton. She is also the principal applicant of the Rebuilding Lives Post-Disaster research partnership. She will serve as the principal organizer and introduce the pre-conference workshop event. She is committed to building capacity in disaster social work and to strengthening research partnerships.

Robin Ersing, PhD, MSW:

Dr. Robin Ersing is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of South Florida in Tampa, USA. She is Chair of the Disaster Committee of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in the USA, and a co-investigator in the Rebuilding Lives Post-Disaster research partnership. Dr. Ersing leads the American country team in the research project and will share the research results and case study on hurricane impacts.

Desley Hargreaves, MSW:

Desley Hargreaves is Adjunct Professor in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at the University of Queensland, Australia. She was a collaborator in the Rebuilding Lives Post-Disaster research partnership, cooperating with Margaret Alston to facilitate Australia country team. She headed Australia's Centrelink social work services for several years and was responsible for deploying social workers across the region into disaster zones and involved in the Bali bombing in Indonesia in 2002. She will share her personal experience regarding Bali bombing in Indonesia in 2002 and the Black Saturday bushfires in Australia in 2009.

Golam Mathbor, PhD, MSW, MSS:

Dr. Golam Mathbor is Professor in Social Work at Monmouth University in New Jersey, USA. He leads the Pakistan team on floods drawing from his extensive professional experience in the South Asian region. He conducted field research in Pakistan on flood recovery, and will share the research results and case study in the workshop.

Lena Dominelli, PhD:

Dr. Lena Dominelli is Professor of Applied Social Sciences and Co-Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience Research at Durham University (UK). She is currently Chair of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) Committee on Disaster Interventions, Climate Change and Sustainability. She represents social work at the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and at the UNISDR (United Nation’s International Strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction). In 2012 she published ‘Green Social Work’ that examines environmental issues from a social work perspective and includes the important voice of practitioners in the aftermath of disasters.

Caroline McDonald – Harker, PhD, MA:

Dr. Caroline McDonald-Harker is a Sociologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, as well as a Faculty Affiliate with the Centre for Community Disaster Research (CCDR) at Mount Royal University. Her areas of research include family; parenting/parenthood; children & youth; disaster; trauma and resilience; and intersections of gender, race, and social class. She is currently involved in three major community-based disaster research studies which examine:

1) the impact of the 2013 Alberta flood on the family;
2) children, youth, and community resilience post-flood 2013 flood in Alberta; and

3) the health effects of the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire and pediatric resiliency.

Tim Haney, PhD, MA:

Tim Haney’s teaching and research interests include the sociology of disaster, environmental sociology, urban sociology, and quantitative methods. He is serving as the Director of MRU’s new Centre for Community Disaster Research (CCDR). Tim lived in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina (2005) and in Calgary during the Southern Alberta flood (2013), and identifies as a disaster researcher.

Catharine McFee, MSW, RSW:

Catharine is presently employed as a Health Promotion Facilitator with Alberta Health Services. For an 18 month period following the 2013 floods in Southern Alberta, Catharine was the Area Coordinator with Rural Addiction and Mental Health in High River, Alberta. She collaborated extensively with community members, Town of High River and the provincial government to meet the complex psychosocial needs of residents in High River post-flood. She brings over 35 years experience as a social worker with provincial government and as a leader in the not-for-profit rehabilitation and health care sector.

Kim Savard:

Kim Savard is a Program Manager of The Way In at Carya (formerly Calgary Family Services). During the flood in Calgary 2013, Kim co-led the mobilization of the Service Coordinators of the Network to respond to the large number of seniors that were evacuated from their homes and more recently supported the EWRT response to the Ft. McMurray Wildfires. She has been a member of Calgary’s EWRT (Emergency Wellness Response Team) for 4 years. Kim has been involved in numerous projects to increase individual, community and organizational capacity and resiliency in disasters and extreme emergencies. For the last 28 years she has worked in hospitals and in the community and has a passion for collaboration and problem solving.

Attendance Requirements:  

In order to receive the 6 Category A credits participants must attend for the entire workshop.
Partial credits will not be provided. A certificate will be provided.

Fees (Includes Light Lunch):

$25.00 for all participants 

Please be sure to indicate any dietary concerns.

Maximum Participants:  60 

Due to the low registration fee NO refunds for cancellation will be given.