Deborah (Lunden) Pedersen is this year’s recipient of the Bridget Moran Advancement of Social Work in Northern Communities award.

The Northern Branch of the BC Association of Social Workers presented Pedersen with this on Friday on UNBC campus in honour of the new social work student bursary in Bridget Moran’s name, and to cap off Social Work Week.

Throughout her career, Pedersen, a Prince George-native, has worked with the provincial children and families ministry, run a group home for teenagers, served as a counselor and program coordinator for a women’s sexual assault centre, been a team lead for the North Cariboo Aboriginal Family Program Society, and instructed at both CNC and UNBC. She’s currently working with older adults with Nothern Health in Quesnel.

Deborah is described as a caring and determined social work advocate. She’s played a vital role in building collaboration relationships between indigenous peoples and social service providers, including developing a spiritual room in the Quesnel hospital.

Even though she’s been working as and fighting for social workers for more than 40 years, Pedersen says there’s still work to do.

“I look forward to the day, 30 years or so, from now, when one of you comes to the long-term care facility to tell me about the recognition flooding in for social workers in social work week, how much social workers are valued in our community for their activism and leadership in social justice, how all the social workers working for MCFD (although its name will have gone through many iterations) have to be BSWs and their positions are called social workers, how all social workers are paid according to their value, all have adequate benefits, are well supported in their work with great mentorship, supervision and professional development, how now that Northern Health has recognized the importance of the social determinants of health, that social workers occupy leadership roles and many community services are provided by social workers.”

The award’s namesake, Bridget Moran, was a long time social work advocate in the north. She stood up against the province’s lack of appropriate social services for children and families after she was fired from her job in the 1960’s. She won her case then continued to be a social work advocate in other capacities.

This year, Bridget’s daughter, Roseanne Moran, was on-hand to present Pedersen with the award.