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Addiction Studies - Aboriginal Focus Diploma

(formerly Aboriginal Addictions Services Counselling Diploma)

Students in this 16-month diploma program will learn to support Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals, families and communities in identifying and managing addictions through prevention and treatment programs. Students will acquire the multilevel intervention skills necessary to support dysfunctional behaviours of addictions.

Addiction Workers and Counsellors often work in community social services, children and youth services, justice system institutions, community Aboriginal services, and emergency shelters.

The program includes 17 courses and 4 community practicums. Program delivery is classroom-based with a focus on group discussions and learner participation, and classes are generally scheduled between 8 am and 5 pm from Monday to Friday. Practicums are offered with community agencies.

The program is open to everyone; the content includes Aboriginal history and culture, and the needs of Aboriginal communities, as well as other populations with addictions.

Students registered in the traditional full-time Addictions Studies – Aboriginal Focus Diploma Program are required to write the Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) assessment in semester one.

Instructor Bios

Addiction Studies - Aboriginal Focus instructor biographies

Need more info?

Please contact Prospective Student Centre: 403-410-1402 or by email

Courses in Program

Curriculum Subject to Change

Click on the course to view the course description.

Semester 1 Courses

ENGL1201 - English: Composition (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners will explore various genres of English composition. This course is not remedial; competency in high-school grammar and composition is required.
Prerequisites: None

ADDC1101 - Introduction to Addictions Studies (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course will increase learners' awareness and understanding of the theories, practical skills, and broader issues that guide the work of addictions workers. Learners will be invited to reflect on their beliefs and values to develop a professional practice that draws on and respects the richness and depth of Canada's multicultural society. Participants will begin to explore various types of addictions and their impact on the addiction field.  The course will demonstrate the breadth and diversity of addictions treatment theory, and how this is expressed in practice in the current world of addiction treatment.
Prerequisites: None

COMM1101 - Interpersonal Relationships and Communication Skills (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners develop strategies necessary for effective and accurate communication in relationships with others, within a variety of contexts. They explore theories and concepts of interpersonal communication and reflect on their own values, beliefs, attitudes, and experiences. Emphasis is placed on self-awareness, cultural diversity in communication, and conflict management. In addition, it focuses on the development of personal strengths and self-awareness that contribute to the development of communication skills and positive relationships.
Prerequisites: None

HMSV1102 - Aboriginal History, Identity and Culture (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course is an overview of Canada's First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.  Historical and current issues are covered, including languages, stories of origin, different band treaties, and current issues of ownership over land, water and governance. 
Prerequisites: None

HMSV1501 - Introduction to Counselling (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course introduces learners to basic counselling skills. As such, it is designed to help learners develop essential helping skills needed for client engagement, follow-through, completion and overall therapeutic effectiveness. Specific skills and techniques covered include; developing rapport, building empathy and listening, encouraging trust, self-disclosure, immediacy, questioning and evoking, addressing discrepancies, etc. It will also take a look at the theories behind effective techniques such as motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy, person centered and solution focus therapies. This course is highly experiential in its format. Learners will participate in classroom exercises, role playing and receiving feedback from Instructors and peers.
Prerequisites: None

ADDC1998 - Introduction to Cross Cultural Communications in Community Agencies (3 credits, 105 hours)

The course introduces the competency profile from the Canadian Addictions Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF) that defines the future scope of practice for the addiction professionals. Professionalism is a major consideration throughout the course. In addition, learners are introduced to variety of roles in addiction services as well as a range of community agencies.
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: 6 credits of AASC/AASD program

Semester 2 courses

COMM1105 - Cross-Cultural Communication and Interpersonal Relationships (3 credits, 45 hours

Effective communication within and between varying cultural groups requires a deep understanding of behaviours and beliefs in relation to cultural identity. Using a culturally relevant perspective, learners will learn to apply self-understanding of their own behaviours in concert with communication theory and relevant techniques.
Prerequisites: COMM1101

ADDC1999 - Community Agency Addictions Counselling (6 credits, 180 hours)

This practicum provides learners with an introduction to the application of the Canadian Addictions Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF) competency profile. Learners are hosted in community and agency settings supervised by agency staff. Learners take observer roles and may be asked to practice under supervision. Emphasis falls on establishing a rapport with individuals and professionals. A thread that runs through the placement experience is the incorporation of cultural competence of diverse and Indigenous populations.
Prerequisites: ADDC1998
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: 12 credits of AASC/AASD program

ADDC1301 - Physiology and Processes of Addictions (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course takes an in-depth look at substances and their impact on body, mind, and behaviour. Learners begin with an introduction to how the relevant body systems work, and then address substances by category and by individual drug to understand their history, appeal, risks, and impact. Emphasis is given to processes of dependence and withdrawal. With knowledge of addiction physiology, support workers have insight into the mechanisms of craving, and are able to promote more effective physical and mental recovery.
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: None

HMSV1502 - Counselling II: Individuals and Groups (3 credits, 45 hours)

This is an advanced course in interviewing, support skills, and theory where learners gain a practical grasp of the therapeutic models in addiction treatment through extensive role playing. Training focuses on enhancing technique and on the skills of working with individuals in groups.
Prerequisites: HMSV1501

HMSV2501 - Social Policy (3 credits, 45 hours) [Online Only]

This course is designed to help learners become critically aware of the economic, social, and political environment within which they will eventually work.  It will examine the process by which health, social policy, and justice policy, is developed in Canada and encourages reflection upon the ways social policy impacts our lives.
Prerequisites: None

Semester 3 courses

HMSV2301 - Healthy Lifestyles via the Medicine Wheel (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course addresses the concepts of living a balanced life according the Medicine Wheel in the areas of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. By incorporating wellness activities the learners will learn how to support clients on their journey of healing.
Prerequisites: None

HMSV2401 - Family and Society Studies (3 credits, 45 hours)

This advanced course focuses on building skills for working cooperatively with children and adults in a family. The course covers diverse family structure and relationships as well as issues facing families today. The course involves instruction, role play, and integration on theories of practice with difficult family dynamics. Discussions include family theory from diverse perspectives.
1 OF: P in ADDC1999 (PRE), P in DAST1999 (PRE), P in ELCC1999 (PRE)

ADDC2302 - Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Early Interevention (3 credits, 45 hours)

There is a relationship between mental health and addiction. The course focuses on the signs and symptoms of various mental health disorders. Learners examine signs and risk factors including suicide behaviours for individuals within diverse and Indigenous communities. In addition, learners identify the roles of members within multi-disciplinary teams and the resources and supports available.
Prerequisites: None

ADDC2501 - Advanced Assessment, Documentation and Case Management (3 credits, 45 hours)

In this course, learners develop knowledge of and practice with addiction assessment tools. Learners focus on documentation and record keeping: the maintenance of current, accurate, and objective case files and records. In addition, the course examines the fundamentals of case management and the collaboration of client services in a client's service plan.
Prerequisites: ADDC1999

ADDC2998 - Addictions Counselling Practicum (6 credits, 180 hours)

Practical experience provides opportunity to integrate theory into practice. In this course, learners are involved in the direct provision of support services for clients and families through participation in inter-disciplinary teams. Focus falls on referrals, community development, building capacity, prevention, and outreach. In addition, learners are given the opportunity to compare their practicum activities to the scope of practice found in the Canadian Addictions Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF) competency profile. A thread that runs through the placement experience is the incorporation of cultural competence of diverse and Indigenous populations.
Prerequisites: ADDC1999
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: 6 credits of year two AASD program

Semester 4 courses

ADDC2502 - Program Development, Delivery and Evaluation (3 credits, 45 hours)

The efficacy of program development is key to the addiction field. In this course, learners examine the cycle of program development using a range of evaluation models. The learners develop competencies to conduct a program evaluation including conducting needs assessments, focus groups, and survey methodologies
Prerequisites: ADDC1999

ADDC2303 - Advanced Physiology and Pharmacology of Addictions (3 credits, 45 hours)

The course focuses on psychotropic medications as a treatment option for addiction. Illicit drugs and their interaction with prescription medications create risk to an individual's physiology including neural pathways: consideration falls on a range of drugs including prescriptive, illicit, herbal, and over-the-counter drugs. Learners document an individual's physical and behavioural changes in their role as an addictions worker within a multi-disciplinary team. 
Prerequisites: ADDC1301

ADDC2301 - Prevention and Relapse Planning (3 credits, 45 hours)

A key issue in addictions is client relapse. This course examines prevention through the use of relapse planning strategies such as identifying and coping with high-risk situations, enhancing self-efficacy, eliminating myths, lapse management, and cognitive restructuring. Learners also focus on how to design, implement, and evaluate prevention programs and practices that meet the needs of the community. They practice using western approaches while integrating the holistic and cultural approaches in supporting Aboriginal and non-aboriginal clients in their recovery. 
Prerequisites: ADDC1999

HMSV2503 - Leadership in Human Services (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course focuses on providing learners with theoretical and practical information about principles of effective leadership and the structure and management of organizations. Learners will explore the theory and practice of leadership and organizational development in the context of human services organizations and funders.
1 OF: P in ADDC1999 (PRE), P in DAST1999 (PRE), P in ELCC1999 (PRE)

ADDC2999 - Advanced Counselling Practicum (6 credits, 180 hours)

This practicum experience takes place in the addiction services workplace. Learners take part in intake interviews and supervised counselling sessions; participate in psycho-educational groups; contribute to the organization of case conferences; and create programs and evaluations. A thread that runs through the placement experience is the incorporation of cultural competence of diverse and Indigenous populations.
Prerequisites: ADDC2998
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: 12 credits of year two AASD program

Admission Requirements

Academic Requirements

  • Credit in English 30-1 or 65% in English 30-2 or equivalent


  • Successful completion of the General Educational Development test (GED) test with a minimum score in the following sections:
    • Writing Skills: 520 minimum standard score
    • Interpreting Literature and Art: 520 minimum standard score


  • Satisfactory results on the BVC Admissions Test

Pre-Practicum Requirement

  • A current Police Information Check (PIC) with a Vulnerable Sector Search (VSS) must be submitted prior to practicum placements. The existence of a criminal record may postpone or prevent clinical, practicum, or field work placements and, subsequently, successful completion of the program.

English Language Proficiency Requirements
See English Language Proficiency Requirements for details.