March is National Social Work Month. Sareta Shae graduated from the Arctic College Social Work Program in 1995. “I’ve been a social worker, off and on since 1996, so more than 20 years,” says Sareta.
She began her career working in her home community of Fort Good Hope, and since then she’s practiced in frontline, as acting supervisor of the Sahtu Healthy Families program, and frontline in Fort Smith. Sareta is always willing to step up and support her collegues and is a strong advocate for her clients. During the flood and the evacuation in the spring she stepped in and provided support to the evacuees.
“Typically, a day can be rewarding and often times it can be stressful and overwhelming when there are deadlines or demands placed on you. But, nonetheless, at the end of the day when puzzle pieces click together and you see the final project coming together, its rewarding to mirror this back to the client(s) that there is progress.”
Sareta notes that Social Work comes with challenges: “It is not always easy when you have to intervene to do child protection with family or friends and today, I never take anything personal when comments are directed at me, whereas in the beginning I did. I have experienced some personal losses of my own, so I have a very tender heart when it comes to parents who have lost their children. I always take a deep breath when encountering these types of situations and help the best that I can. Once I am at home, I remember self-care, as that is so important in this line of work.”
She began her career working in her home community of Fort Good Hope; her very first co-worker and mentor was her late mother, Violet Edji. “Her knowledge, support, encouragement and sense of humor was instrumental in helping me as I continued working after her retirement. She and I both worked together when Social Services was handling Justice, Income Support, Aged and Handicapped, child protection and a few other roles but we worked as a team in our own home community.”
Sareta explains that it’s been one year since her mother’s passing. “I’ve always tried to instill the thoughts of the anniversary losses as a celebration.” Sareta says that being asked to share her experiences for National Social Work Month, made her “feel worthy of the work that I’ve done in the past and will keep me going into the future.”
Thank you Sareta for your amazing work and many contributions to the NWT.
If you need to contact a social worker in your region, please visit https://www.hss.gov.nt.ca/en/content/contact-us/social-services-office