More than 20 physicians completed the ICS training including l to r: Dr. Ishtiaque Aziz, Dr. Reka Gustafson, Dr. David Hall, Dr. Marla Gordon, Dr. Tim Sakaluk, Jo Kontogiannis, Practice Support Program; and Dr. Danel Pare,

We’re all in this canoe together

By now most of us have heard about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or at least Gord Downie’s tribute to residential school survivors through his project, The Secret Path, and have some understanding that horrible systemic harms have been done to Indigenous people in Canada over the past hundred and fifty years aimed at “killing the Indian in the child.” This has been acknowledged and apologized for by two prime ministers, Harper and Trudeau, and both the federal and provincial governments have committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Our CEO, Mary Ackenhusen, has signed a Declaration of Commitment along with the Ministry of Health and the other health authorities, to have cultural safety and humility embedded in all levels of the health system. This is a journey that is just beginning – we have a long way to go.

Now with a new year upon us – it’s time to act. It’s time to take a collective step forward and open our hearts and minds to improve health care for Indigenous people.

The Carlisle Youth Concurrent Disorders staff team completed the ICS training in 2017

Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) Training

2017 was a very successful year for Aboriginal Health in providing the Indigenous Cultural Safety training to VCH staff. In less than a year, the three hour in-person workshop was delivered to more than 600 staff and physicians. Our plan is to double this number of trainees in 2018.

The holistic Indigenous Cultural Safety curriculum model was developed by Riel Dupuis- Rossi, Jennifer-Lee Koble and Dion Thevarge, members of the Aboriginal Health team, specifically for health care staff.

Land Acknowledgement, History, and Self-reflection is a tailored curriculum which includes a history of colonization, how to give a traditional land acknowledgement, participate in self-reflection and understanding of privilege, as well as an overview of VCH’s cultural competency policy and its application. VCH’s endorsed commitments to achieving culturally competent care and programming are explored and basic terms connected to Indigenous cultural safety are discussed.

What is Indigenous Cultural Safety?

It is an outcome of cultural competency, defined and experienced by those who receive the service – they feel safe. Cultural safety is based on understanding the power differentials and potential discrimination inherent in the health service delivery system.

Who we are

The Aboriginal Health team supports staff to have an understanding of the historical context of Indigenous people in Canada and to be given opportunities to learn about traditional healing and wellness from an Indigenous perspective to help VCH acute care staff provide culturally responsive health care services to Aboriginal clients.

What your colleagues are saying:

“Please pass along my appreciation to the whole organizing group and to the elders for their wisdom. For me it has highlighted what I know (not enough), what I thought I knew, and what I don’t know (but need to) about Aboriginal history and culture, the befores and afters. Definitely humbling and inspiring at the same time. My practice will be changed, and I hope to inspire and encourage my colleagues to do the same.”

Dr. Jay Slater, MD., CCFP
Physician, Home ViVE & Home Hospice, VCH Medical Director, Community Geriatric Programs, VCH Clinical Assistant Professor, Dept. of Family Practice, Community Geriatrics, Faculty of Med. UBC

“I am moved to thank you again for sharing your time, knowledge and stories with us today.  I am humbled and grateful for learning some of the history I learned today and will carry the impact it made on me. I hope to continue my life with respect and appreciate culture diversity after our session today.”

Donna Sangster, Management Recruitment Advisor, Management Talent Acquisition, Employee Engagement

“I wanted to convey heartfelt thanks for a wonderful and mind-blowing (in a good and quiet way) experience on Friday.  Truly this was a game changing experience for me, I look forward to the journey.”

Sarah Sinanan OT, MRSc Occupational Therapy Practice Coordinator| GF Strong | VCH Clinical Assistant Professor | Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy | Faculty of Medicine | UBC

 More information

To learn more about cultural safety and find resources to help develop your understanding, see our staff hub http://vch-connect/programs/ICS/Pages/default.aspx

If you would like to sign yourself or your team up for the training, send us an email


One comment

  1. Catherine (Kitty) Dube says:

    The signup email didn’t go through. Would like to know any future workshops may be set up so can see if can attend. Staff nurse in ICU Richmond Hospital. Not sure if this is just for doctors or includes nursing staff. Have a few patients a year fly in from the north. THanks much

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