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Enriched by Catastrophe:
Social Work and Social Conflict after the Halifax Explosion

ISBN: 9781552662274

January 2007

"Hébert Boyd is objective but unsparing in this account of the ever-present underside of disaster and class."

- Reference & Research Book News, August 2008


Distributed in the US by Independent Publishers Group

When social workers arrived on the scene after the Halifax explosion it marked the beginning of the transition from a charity model of social welfare to a profession of trained and paid social workers. The newly arrived social workers had to practise their skills in the context of Halifax’s prevailing class structures, where, traditionally, well-off volunteers passed judgment on their poorer neighbours and great care was taken not to improve the conditions of people beyond their station in society. This work reflects on the lessons the profession of social work took from its work in rebuilding the lives of Haligonians and the lessons still to be learned from this experience.


 Excerpt: [Halifax] is still shaped by the social policies put in place after the Explosion — and many of them were oppressive, racist, and meant to preserve the prevailing social order. The legacy of these policies can be seen in the institutionalized racism and marginalization of certain groups that marked twentieth-century Halifax. In the years since 1917, that racism and marginalization has been manifested in the places where certain groups of people live, the availability of health and other public services, and in civic leaders’ decisions about city planning and infrastructure.

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