Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Cultural Safety & Decolonization

Aboriginal Students in TRU classroom

Cultural sensitivity and cultural competence are approaches that have framed cultural teaching practices for many years. Although these approaches are beneficial, they do not attend to historical and current political, social and economic forces that is the context for most teaching and learning experiences involving indigenous students.

Past and current practices of colonialism are practices that demean or diminish the dignity, worth and potentials of Indigenous peoples. Many Indigenous peoples, scholars, researchers, and educators are using the concepts of cultural safety and decolonization as a framework to uncover the practices inherent in historical and current colonialism. One scholar described the process of uncovering practices as "unsettling the settler within—a practice that would move us from unconsciousness, racism, denial, and guilt about history to critical inquiry, and social action". Uncovering the practices of colonialism offers greater hope of positive and progressive experiences for teachers and students and is a way to "use history as a catalyst for change."

The following are several resources that explain, explore, and provide ways in which teachers can incorporate the concepts of cultural safety and decolonization into the classroom.

Guidelines for Cultural Safety

2005 "Guidelines for Cultural Safety: The Treaty of Waitangi and Maori Health."
Nursing Council of New Zealand

Cultural Safety Modules

The purpose of these modules is to provide a background and context to reflect on Aboriginal peoples' experience of colonialism as they relate to health and health care. Although designed for health care professionals, these modules are valuable to all disciplines.

The creators of these modules recommend that individuals work through the modules in the following order:

Cultural Safety Module 1: Peoples Experience of Colonization
Explores the relationship between colonial history and health.

Cultural Safety Module 2: Peoples Experience of Oppression
Explores power and privilege, marginalization and oppression.

Cultural Safety Module 3: Peoples Experience of Colonization in Relation to Health Care
Explores Aboriginal peoples’ experiences of health, health care and healing.

Cultural Safety in Medical Education

Promoting Culturally Safe Care for First Nations, Metis & Inuit Patients: A Core Curriculum for Residents & Physicians

Cultural Safety in Nursing Education

Cultural Competence & Cultural Safety in Nursing Education

Canadian Health Care Association

Canadian Health Care Association: Cultural Competence & Cultural Safety in Health Services Program

Recommended Reading

Smith, L. (1999).  Decolonizing methodologies. New York: Zed Books
We have this book in TRU holdings. 
Call No: GN 380 .S65 1999

Denzin, N. (2008).  Handbook on critical and indigenous methodologies. Toronto: Sage   
We have this book in TRU holdings
Call No: GN 345 .H364 2008