Hanna Woodward

Social Work Diploma graduate Hanna Woodward, originally from Labrador and Mixed Inuit, now serves as the Indigenous Student Support Advisor at the University of Calgary and founded the Calgary Pop-Up Village to support vulnerable communities.

Social Work Diploma graduate Hanna Woodward started her post-secondary education journey in 2014 in the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry program at the University of Lethbridge. While she had recently graduated high school and had enjoyed chemistry there, she completed one semester before realizing it wasn’t something she was passionate about.

Originally from Labrador, Hanna, who is Mixed Inuit, had been living in Brooks, Alberta since 2006 and returned there while she tried to figure out her next steps. In May 2016, she was ready for a change and decided to move to Calgary to pursue new opportunities.

It was a radio ad for the new social work program that put Bow Valley College on her radar during her time working at a serving job. Hanna’s mom is a nurse and though she wasn’t initially sure what social work entailed, she knew she wanted to be in a career where she could help others. Calgary is the first big city Hanna lived in and after being exposed to different things she hadn’t experienced before such as unhoused communities, as well as doing some research about the field, she knew social work was the path she wanted to explore.

She was initially waitlisted for the program and completed a year of Open Studies before being accepted, beginning Fall 2017 . Hanna says her time at the college was more than just learning in the classroom.

“When I was attending Bow Valley College, I was struggling with my mental health quite a bit and I felt that being part of that community of people learning to be social workers helped me build coping mechanisms,” she says. “There's something unique about being a social work student where we were all very passionate about mental health and advocacy and community. Everyone was supportive of one another and could connect our personal experiences and our own circumstances to our learning, which was really helpful.”

Hanna graduated in 2019 and two years later, pursued her bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Calgary. During COVID, Hanna was looking for a volunteer opportunity and found Be the Change YYC, eventually becoming the senior team lead and helping with applying for grants before becoming the first paid employee for the organization, where she was the program coordinator.

In Spring 2023, Hanna completed a two-month practicum with the UCalgary Recovery Community before being hired as their outreach coordinator, and in October 2023, transitioned into her current role as the Indigenous Student Support Advisor with Student Wellness Services at the U of C.

Her passion for Calgary’s vulnerable community has led Hanna to managing the Calgary Pop-Up Village first through Be the Change YYC and eventually through her own non-profit, Radi-Calgary. The Calgary Pop Up Care Village is a festival held twice annually for people experiencing systemic vulnerabilities such as being unhoused, poverty and food insecurity. The event brings together organizations to provide services to people on the spot, such as handing out care packages, offering haircuts, as well as access to resources such as low-income bus passes and identification services.”
“Being in the sector of homeless outreach, we saw the barriers and we understood there are shelters and services available, but being unhoused, you don't have the same ability to make an appointment and make it to that appointment,” says Hanna. “We really needed to have something where people could be met literally where they're at and to make it accessible and we wanted to provide opportunities for people to feel a part of the community and feel a sense of belonging.”

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