Cultural safety

Supporting increased cultural competency and safety throughout Northern Health

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


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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 and anti-Indigenous racism

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.

Land acknowledgement

Northern Health acknowledges with gratitude that our work takes place on the territories of the Tlingit, Tahltan, Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Tsimshian, Haisla, Haida, Wet’suwet’en, Carrier (Dakehl), Sekani (Tse'khene), Dane-zaa, Cree, Saulteau and Dene Peoples.

Northern Health commitment to Indigenous health and reconciliation

Northern Health acknowledges the harms experienced by Indigenous peoples accessing the health system. We are committed to new ways of being through building healthy and trusting relationships with Indigenous communities, families, individuals, and employees. These commitments are interwoven throughout the strategic priorities and integral to the success of Northern Health.

Northern Health commits to:

  • Striving to ensure that all Indigenous people have access to high quality, culturally safe, and respectful services.
  • Narrowing health disparities experienced by Indigenous peoples.
  • Implementing changes to address cultural safety, and to confront racism and stigmatization of Indigenous peoples.
  • Building a health system that aligns with the values and knowledge of the people we serve.
  • Centering Indigenous ways of being and knowing in the health services we provide.

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