Cultural Safety

Supporting increased cultural competency and safety throughout Northern Health

Cultural safety: Respect and dignity in relationships

Key priority

Supporting the health care system to be culturally safe for Indigenous Peoples is one of our top priorities. All our programs and initiatives work toward inclusive health services and a health care system respectful of Indigenous Peoples in Northern BC. For example:

  • Our team members can support Northern Health leaders and staff by: providing Indigenous-specific health resources including presentations, tools and processes, actively participating on Northern Health committees and working groups, and engaging Indigenous individuals and communities. Learn more...
  • We support AHICs to develop local cultural resources for health practitioners to learn about Indigenous Peoples and communities in Northern BC

Activities and resources

We are working on specific cultural safety activities and resources to increase awareness, understanding and capacity within Northern Health to provide culturally safe services. For example:

four NH employees sitting in front of a large screen displaying a fireplace
During the 2019 All A/IHIC Gathering, Northern Health staff participate in a fireside chat to discuss how cultural safety and the A/IHICs have impacted their work.

handmade trees made of bent metal wire and found rocks as a base
This art activity from the 2019 All A/IHIC gathering represents a vision of what our lives look like and what might form a solid foundation built on cultural safety.
large crowd of students participating in cultural safety workshop
Cultural Safety Embedded into Health Sciences Student Orientation by College of New Caledonia. In September 2019, the IH team facilitated an introductory Cultural Safety Workshop to over 300 first year health sciences students. 

Learn more

There are several key terms related to realizing cultural safety in health service delivery. Those terms include:

Cultural humility

Cultural humility is a lifelong journey of self-reflection and learning. It involves listening without judgement and being open to learning from and about others. It involves learning about our own culture and our biases. Cultural humility is a building block for cultural safety. It is an overarching principle that is threaded through our learning and acts as the process by which change can occur.

Cultural awareness

The journey of cultural humility 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

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 competence

We can increase our cultural competence by developing knowledge, skills and attitudes for working effectively and respectfully with diverse people. 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

The goal of cultural safety is for all people to feel respected and safe when they interact with the health care system. Culturally safe health care services are free of racism and discrimination. People are supported to draw strengths from their identity, culture and community.

Healing in pandemic times

Indigenous Health, Northern Health and the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH) present this short animated video addressing the ongoing issue of stigmatization experienced by Indigenous peoples in the health care system.

Healing in pandemic times: Indigenous peoples, stigma, and COVID-19 is intended for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences. The animated video reviews key terms such as stigmatization, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination in an easily understandable way.

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