Cultural Safety Module 3: Peoples Experiences of  Colonization in Relation to Health Care

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Professional and Personal Responsibility to Build Strength and Capacity

Small is Beautiful: What You Can Do

Cultural safety does not provide a "how to" list of how to interact with people. Although we may seek clarity and want answers, reflecting on individual situations with an awareness of equality and respect for difference, is a better choice.

In conversations with Roger John, his ideas of cultural competence are congruent with notions of cultural safety, rather than with the cultural competence model described in the Introduction to these modules. Now listen to Roger describe the importance of respect and working together.

Click to watch video clips/read text transcripts.

Roger John, Respect
Roger John,

[Text Transcript]
  vertical line   Roger John, Respect Each Other
Roger John,
Respect Each Other

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Equality in health care does not mean treating everyone the same. It may mean fighting for effective, safe services for people, for example delivering vision and dental health care in Aboriginal communities through mobile services, with staff who are knowledgeable about cultural safety. "Recipes" for cross-cultural sensitivity and awareness are not appropriate for challenging the issues of labelling, stereotyping, and marginalization because universal approaches to health care often assume one type of care works for everyone. Always keep this in mind when you participate in continuing education opportunities related to cultural sensitivity or competence. As Roger says in the next video clip, "There is no Indian 101 course."

There is, however, a wealth of cultural knowledge and difference for you to embrace. When reviewing resources on cultural practices and beliefs, take time to reflect on where your own values come from as you absorb the information.


Roger John, No Indian 101
Roger John,
No Indian 101

[Text Transcript]


Here are some things you can do to increase your professional and personal cultural safety competencies. These suggestions are neither guarantees nor rules, only possibilities. The goal is not for you to change your closely held values, but for you to understand your values and how they might affect Aboriginal peoples.

  • Click here to learn about protocols in place for making contact with Aboriginal Elders and communities.
  • Find out if your local health authority has an Aboriginal health/wellness advisory board or committee.
  • Pay attention to your emotions and physical reactions in the practice setting. Being aware of how you feel in situation — nervous, anxious, confident, embarrassed — may signal times when your values are at odds with others and you may need to recall cultural safety ideas to make sense of these situations.
  • Read about the history of nursing and the health care system in which you work. Do you notice other inequities in nursing or the health care system that are not mentioned in these modules?
  • Join (or start) a committee to look at your workplace policy on cultural safety. Ask questions such as: Who designed this policy in the first place? Who is it meant to serve? Does it serve those people? If not, why not?
  • Find out if your workplace has an ethics committee or office that deals with issues of discrimination or other conflict.
  • Ask your colleagues how they feel about and if they have experienced discrimination in the workplace.
  • Ask your employer to offer professional development opportunities to look at cultural safety.
  • Invite guest speakers from the Aboriginal community to meet staff.
  • Take a course related to the topic at a college or university.
  • Find out more about Aboriginal history and traditional healing beliefs.
  • Start an equity or anti-discrimination committee in your workplace and invite guest presenters who have knowledge on these issues.
  • Facilitate practicums for nursing students in Aboriginal agencies and communities, such as the local friendship centre.
  • Contact your local friendship centre to learn more about it.
  • Learn about the history of Aboriginal people in your local area; for example, find out the locations of former residential schools and Indian hospitals.
  • Learn about land claims issues and processes, using the Internet and/or library resources.
  • Find out about local healing practices.
  • Consult local newspapers and media for upcoming public community events, such as powwows or canoe races, and attend them.

Take a few minutes now to do Activity 4, Cultural Safety: A Way Forward?

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