Anneka Westergreen BSW
Foster Care & Adoptions Social Worker
Family & Children Services YHSSA
GNWT PUBLIC SERVICE:
Anneka Westergreen's ProfileMy Role
I have worked as a Foster Care and Adoption Social Worker since February 2009. Prior to that I was a Family and Community Social Worker for 2 ½ years, supporting children who are in permanent care. I have many different roles at YHSSA. With practicum students I am a mentor, with foster parents and adoptive families I provide information, support , and conduct interviews. I am also involved in the community by working to involve new foster parents and provide training.
I work with the Yellowknife Foster Family Association and the Foster Family Coalition – which provides support to foster parents in Yellowknife and the entire NWT. I assist families interested in departmental, private and international adoptions and provide information to birth parents.
I was born in Inuvik and moved to Yellowknife shortly after. After high school I went to the University of British Columbia (Kelowna Campus). I began studying psychology because I wanted to learn to help people. I enjoyed the courses; however, in my third year I realized that a Bachelor’s degree in Arts with a psychology major would not provide me with the skills or credentials to work directly with people. I made a quick decision to change programs and it was the best decision I ever made. The social work program taught me to approach the people I work with, and the world I live in, with a deeper level of understanding.
I also had the opportunity to complete two amazing four-month practicums. The first was in Kelowna, BC, working at a homeless Drop-in Centre which provided meals, laundry, showers and a mailing address for individuals affected by homelessness. My fourth year practicum was with Kardinia Women’s Services in Geelong, Australia. It was very interesting to learn how social work practice is similar and different in a country other than Canada. While there, I worked with women at risk seeking housing and addictions services. While working towards my Bachelor of Social Work degree I learned valuable skills and developed a strong appreciation for Aboriginal cultures.
In the NWT there are a lot of opportunities. Often times, staff new in their career are given more challenges than those in southern Canada. Even though I often feel that I am flying by the seat of my pants, I am grateful for the many opportunities that require flexibility and the personal and professional growth that occurs as a result. As a Child and Family Social Worker, I worked with the same group of children for close to three years. Building relationships, and watching these children and youth grow has provided me with some of the most rewarding aspects of my career so far.
Expanded Opportunities in the North
Some of the people I went to school with in Kelowna had to keep their student jobs because there simply very few new social work jobs in BC. This is not the case in the NWT. With my job I have the power to make choices and use my education every day. I moved to my current position because I wanted to work with the community in a new capacity. I think that in a city of this size there is great potential for local people to have a loud voice and effect positive social change.
I’ve also been able to attend additional workshops because of the Department of Health and Social Services’ Professional Development Initiative (PDI) – a program that provides funding for career development. I have also given some thought to returning to school for my Masters in Social Work or Masters in Family Counselling and PDI can help make this possible through distance education.Northern Fun
I recently purchased a new home in Yellowknife so I will be staying for a while. Even though I grew up here, I am learning to appreciate Yellowknife in a new way as an adult. Meeting people who are new to the city often keeps me experiencing all the city has to offer in new ways. It’s always fun to visit the Snow Castle in winter for its live music and maple syrup. Folk on the Rocks continues to be a fabulous community event full of sun and good music each July. Yellowknife is a great place to have a pet, (like a dog, to get you out in winter) and to get involved in fitness or artistic opportunities. I am often grateful to live in a city where I don’t have to spend a large part of my day commuting to work. I can walk a few minutes from the downtown area to a quiet place in nature. Or within the same amount of time, meet up with friends at a nice restaurant for an enjoyable evening. Yellowknife is always surprising me!