Cultural Safety: Respect and Dignity in Relationships

Cultural Safety: Respect and Dignity in Relationships


[instrumental music and bird calls] Indigenous peoples thrived on the lands of present day Canada for thousands of years. About 500 years ago, Europeans began to arrive. By the 1900s, an explicit colonial agenda to control and assimilate Indigenous peoples was in place. The impacts of this are still felt today and show up as a larger burden of ill health, loss of language and culture, dislocation, and marginalization. This history is part of Canada and we all share a responsibility for healing relationships. How do we do this? Creating an environment of cultural safety in health care settings is one step toward healing this relationship. [instrumental music] Cultural safety is achieved when people of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds feel respected and safe from discrimination. At Northern Health, our values include empathy, respect, collaboration, and innovation. When we put these values in action, we strive to honour diversity, genuinely care, and build trust through understanding. Cultural safety grows when these values are applied to the context of cultural differences. How can we do this? By developing our cultural awareness, sensitivity, and competency through cultural humility. Let’s take a look at the meaning of each of these terms. [instrumental music] Cultural humility is a lifelong journey of self-evaluation, reflection, and learning to deepen our understanding of how our life experiences influence how we understand and interact with others. The skills of self-reflection and assessment carry us along a path of understanding and change. The journey often starts with cultural awareness – recognizing that differences and similarities exist between cultures. Learning about the histories that impact Indigenous peoples in Canada is an important part of developing cultural awareness. Cultural sensitivity grows when we start to see the influences of our own culture and acknowledge that we have biases. This can be an eye-opening experience, and it may take courage and humility to walk this path. Cultural sensitivity is not about treating everyone the same. With cultural awareness and sensitivity comes a responsibility to act respectfully. Cultural competency is about developing practical skills for interacting in respectful ways with people who are different from us. It’s about reducing the number of assumptions we make about people based on our biases. Cultural competency does not require us to become experts in cultures different from our own. Cultural safety improves as we proceed along this path of self-reflection and learning. The goal of culturally safe health care is that people feel respected and safe from discrimination when they access health services. As health care practitioners and service providers, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to provide the best quality care possible to all individuals, and this involves developing our cultural competence through humility. Along this journey, we begin to understand and appreciate the gifts that each of us brings to the table. Together, we can work to ensure that everyone is able to maintain their dignity when they are seeking care and at their most vulnerable. We can, as individuals and as organizations, foster trusting and respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities. So our journey begins. [instrumental music and bird calls]

4 thoughts on “Cultural Safety: Respect and Dignity in Relationships

  1. Thanks for making a fantastic quality video that makes a difficult concept easy to understand and engage with.

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