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Petra Roberts

Assistant Professor
OfficeSHE-627, Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre for Studies in Community Health
Phone416-979-5000, ext. 556128

Hours available: Wednesday 1:00-4:00pm

Trinidadian-born, Petra Roberts came to Canada in the eighties. She has an impressive list of academic credentials: a BA from the University of Winnipeg and, from the University of Manitoba, both a BSW and a Masters of Social Work, a Diploma in Population Health, and a Ph.D. in Social Work.

Starting as a Child Protection Worker in Thompson, northern Manitoba, Petra went on to be a Child Advocacy Officer in Winnipeg before spending 14 years as a Mental Health Clinician with the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Community Services Program. Returning to Trinidad, she was a Project Manager at the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre/Pan American Health Organization (CAREC/PAHO). The position included the evaluation of communicable disease surveillance systems in several Caribbean countries. Petra was also an Instructor in the Social Work Department at the University of the West Indies where she taught both graduate and undergraduate courses. Returning to Winnipeg, Petra worked with the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorder Program at Winnipeg’s largest hospital. She was also a sessional lecturer at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Social Work.

Always active supporting community organizations, Petra was a board member at the Thompson Women’s Crisis Shelter and at the Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg. In Trinidad, she volunteered developing new programs at St. Mary’s Children’s Home (a former children’s orphanage). In addition to developing new programs, Petra’s work involved many of the characteristics of child and youth care practice. Petra continues to provide informal consultation to the home.

In 2017 Petra joined the Department of Social Work at Algoma University as an Assistant Professor. She was the Lead on the Diversity and Equity Committee and, continuing years of work with recent immigrants and refugees in Winnipeg, provided informal support and mentoring to students from Africa and transfer students of colour from southern Ontario.

Petra’s research interests are in the area of children and families, mental health, child welfare and out-of-home care for children in Canada and the Caribbean. Petra is currently the principal investigator in a research project which focuses on the experiences of international students as well as those of immigrants and refugees in the Sault Ste Marie community.

Teaching responsibilities

Teaching interests

  • Indigenizing courses/indigenous content integrated in courses
  • Critical social theories
  • Quantitative research methodology in child and youth care
  • Families
  • Social Innovation

Research interests/research projects

  • Varieties of colonial child and youth care experiences and the role of the Anglican Church: Residential school survivor and a former resident of the Orphan Asylum in Trinidad and Tobago. An oral history project
  • Gendered experience of transition from care: Comparative study Trinidad & Tobago and Ontario
  • Role of kinship/community care in low-income countries
  • Historical contribution and the role of women in providing out-of-home care for children and youth