Job Title: Intercultural Family Resource Network Hub Coordinator, Edmonton Region, Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative
As a teenager growing up in Nigeria, Funke Olokude witnessed her mother’s struggle with mental illness, and felt troubled and confused by the stigma that surrounded her family. In an effort to better understand her trauma and experience, Olokude studied psychology. She later found her calling when she began a Bachelor of Social Work through the University of Calgary, resonating with the program’s focus on identity.
“I started to recognize how culture and language intersect with mental health,” reflects Olokude. “Now I approach social work as a symbiotic relationship; by sitting with others in their pain, I learn about my own.”
In her role with the Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative, Olokude leads a proactive measure that is reducing the number of individuals and families who access the child welfare, housing and health-care systems. She continues to contribute to the development of a collaborative model between the Co-op and Ministry of Children’s Services that has proven to increase the resilience and well-being of families; it is now being studied as a best-practice model by five Canadian universities and as cutting edge practice by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW).
“When I can make visible the multiple factors that lead to the complex realities of racialized individuals, I feel very proud.”
Olokude also influenced the City of Edmonton’s latest Affordable Housing Strategy, which defines feasible objectives for tackling homelessness in all areas of the city. She continues to take on cases as a social worker and educator, helping cultural minority families to thrive and build a stronger sense of community in Alberta.