Northwestern Branch

Northwestern Branch includes Thunder Bay, Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Northwestern Ontario. Also included are members from White River to the Manitoba border and members from the US border to James Bay. 

Upcoming Events

Previous Branch Activities

Nipissing Networking Event in North Bay 

On November 22, 2018 OASW Northern Branch hosted a networking event in North Bay with a special presentation by Dr. Diana Coholic. Dr. Diana Coholic, RSW is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Laurentian University, and has been a clinical social worker for over 20 years. For the past 10 years, her research has investigated the effectiveness of arts-based mindfulness group work for the improvement of resilience and self-concept. Through this research, she and her team have developed and tested a 12-week arts-based mindfulness group program called Holistic Arts-Based Program (HAP). Currently, her team is facilitating HAP with youths aged 11-17 years who are experiencing challenges with schooling. Her latest book is titled Facilitating Mindfulness: A Guide for Human Service Professionals (available for purchase from Northrose Educational Resources: Additional information about her work (including publications and links to videos) can be found at: Diana's interactive presentation provided an overview of mindfulness practices and concepts with examples of exercises to be used for personal and professional benefit. She also discussed facilitating mindfulness by way of arts-based methods which is a highly engaging, accessible, and enjoyable strengths-based approach. 

2018 Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting was held on April 30, 2018. Guest speaker Carrie Nyitrai shared on compassion fatigue and offered a fun activity involving creating your own mandala. 
(Adobe PDF File)

2016 Annual General Meeting

On April 19, 2016, our Annual General Meeting was held at the Sister Margaret Smith Centre.  Following the meeting, a local social worker, Mari Lukkaroinen presented on Human Trafficking.  The presentation included consideration to current definitions, how people are inducted into and maintained in the trafficking network, signs/indicators an individual might be involved in trafficking, and, how to effectively support individuals identified.  Thank you to Mari for a very informative and awareness raising presentation and to those who came out to participate.

Social Work Week 

On March 8th, Northwestern Branch held an event with guest speakers Amanda Orr (Complexity Theory & LTC (research); Laurel Vescio (Addictions & Triggers (research); and Joey Wark (Narrative Therapy with Families & Youth) during Social Work Week, the theme of which was "Social Workers Help Turn Issues into Answers".

Northwestern Branch Special Event

On October 19th, Northwestern Branch held a special event featuring Joan MacKenzie Davies, Executive Director, OASW. Attendees learned about a marketing campaign designed to increase the profile of social work with the public; research to build evidence that demonstrates the value of social work; an online certificate course for social workers working with older adults; leadership skills training workshops; a new professional development fund to assist social workers with continuing education needs.  

Remembering Natalia Lysy-Trist

It is with deep sorrow that the Northwestern Branch of the Ontario Association of Social Workers announces the untimely passing of one of our dear board members, Ms. Natalia Lysy-Trist, on May 15, 2019.  Natalia was a dedicated advocate, counsellor, friend, colleague, and Social Worker, and she will be missed by all of those whom she came in contact with.  We were truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to have her guidance, knowledge, and compassion during her 3 years on the board in many roles, most recently as Secretary.  

Natalia’s passing has been such a shock to the entire board, and we know it will have an impact on the entire Social Work community in Thunder Bay as she was such a wonderful beacon of hope.  We ask that you pause to take a moment to reflect and remember Natalia, say a prayer for her loved ones, or do a kind act in her honour.

Finally, the board wishes to extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends during this difficult time.

With heavy hearts,

The Northwestern Branch of the Ontario Association of Social Workers


Board Members:

(The Board meets the fourth Monday of the month).

Executive Members:  

Tracy Randall, President
Melissa Berry, Treasurer

Board Members:

Mark Halabecki
Carrie Nyitrai

If you are interested in joining either of these Committees, or, would like to become involved as a Board Member, please contact Tracy Randall @

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Remember, if you want something posted to our Branch website, please pass the information along to Tracy Randall. 
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Committees & Projects

Lakehead University Liaison Committee  Tracy Randall, Chair 
Ongoing committee that is working on continuing to build the Branch's relationship and connection with the Social Work Department of LU. 
Update: On March 10, 2016, this Committee held its first ever joint reception with the Social Work Department of LU for graduating social work students. 


Nominating Committee

Pirjo Smith, Chair
This Committee works through the year to maintain a full slate of Officers, 11 positions exist. 
Currently, there are 6 vacancies.