Category Archives: Blog
“It is great to have respect for the cultural practices within the communities we live and practice in.”
Cultural safety is a huge step in the reconciliation of our Indigenous communities. It is my belief that everyone should be educated of our past, present and future identity as Indigenous peoples. There is always room for learning and growth as individuals, organizations and communities to help better understand cultural safety.
As an example of being aware of how you use cultural safety in the workplace. I had lost an uncle and was scheduled to attend a professional development workshop on the same day the funeral was. Our family comes from a strong line of culturally involved people. Our culture is very private but most often after a death in a family/community. The family will gather for four days after the death and the loved one will be buried on the fourth day. My uncle, the oldest of eight children and possibly a residential school survivor although it has never been talked about, had stated before he passed that he did not want anything cultural. While wanting to honour his wishes, there were mixed feelings about this in my family.
My Executive Director at the time asked me, “Are you sure you want to miss this workshop you are registered for? Even though it is just a celebration of life.”
This question upset me, I felt angry and like I had been punched in the stomach. I felt defensive and like I had to justify my choice thinking that if we had gone by our traditions and teachings, I would have been away from work much longer, and the statement from the Executive Director would be more insensitive.
I privately addressed the issue with my direct supervisor and stated that I was offended by the lack of empathy for my spiritual and emotional loss I was dealing with. He arranged a meeting with the three of us to resolve my cultural safety concerns. My Executive Director apologized. She was from a different community and had perspectives based on her own history.
Understanding is a huge factor in a positive outcome for anything culturally related. We are often coming together from different places and need to work together with empathy and compassion. For me, the saying “It takes a village to raise a child,” also applies to how we relate to each other as we grow professionally as adults. If we are in a positive/supportive community that values and uplifts us, our world will be a much better place.
When we consider what cultural competency is, we must reflect on how it shows up in our action, words, and behaviors. These are some of the most important aspects of cultural competency and it lies in our ability to be rigorously honest with ourselves and our intentions. This also includes the process of self-reflection and self-awareness. The key is awareness and a recognition of our inaccurate perceptions that we hold of Indigenous children, families, and communities. It requires a shift in our perceptions and can result in cognitive dissonance when confronted with a reality that is the polar opposite of what we believe, think, and understand about Indigenous people, and this is a direct result of our socialization and upbringing.
The self- reflection matters because we are at a point in time where awareness amongst the mainstream culture is awakening through reports such as the “Truth and Reconciliation Report” and the “Calls to Action” (2015). We are all challenged to consider Indigenous ways of being and knowing as a truth that has for far too long been denied and ostracized. Mainstream pedagogy has been thought to be superior to other cultures, and active efforts to negate the Indigenous worldview and ways of being disrupt the lives of many Indigenous children, families, and communities.
The question we must all ask ourselves is “How do we bring cultural competency in our work roles when helping Indigenous children and families?” There are stereotypes of Indigenous People that we learned growing up from our families, and these negative assumptions can taint and create cultural biases that continue to inform erroneous our beliefs we have of Indigenous people. As noted earlier, awareness is the key to overcoming the negative beliefs we hold about Indigenous people.
Indigenous Perspectives Society is a Canada’s Workforce Choice Awards finalist for the category of Indigenous Engagement! More information about the awards can be found at workforcechoiceawards.ca.
It takes strong leaders, wonderful staff, and engaged participants to make a make an excellent workplace. Thank you to everyone in our community for making IPS a fantastic place to be.
Cultural Competency has often been referred to in many ways; cultural sensitivity, cultural intelligence, cultural agility, and cultural humility. Whatever the terminology, we are encouraged to consider our cultural competence especially when working with communities and groups who have historically and are contemporarily marginalized, colonized, racialized, and ostracized.
Cultural Competency is more than our ability to relate to others and more than being kind to others. Cultural Competency is the keen ability to recognize cultural cues, to be comfortable with new situations and cultural behaviours that we are unfamiliar with, it is about our appetite for growth when it pertains to social circles more diverse than our own, and our ability to challenge learned behaviour, stereotypes, and ideologies. Cultural Competence is not about tolerance, it is about embracing diversity. It is not about comparing, it is about appreciating difference, and including a multiplicity of perspectives.
It is no secret that cultural diversity has proven to enrich work environments both in social experience and productivity. Culturally diverse environments thrive for a variety of reasons which include more input, more ideas, more comprehensive decision making, and greater learning. With these benefits in mind, it is critical that leaders ensure their staff have had exposure and opportunity to grow their cultural competence. This is more than simply educating to increase cultural knowledge. It is about exposure, experience, and dialogue so that staff can build cross cultural skills. More importantly it is also about providing space and safe opportunities for staff to assess, reflect on, and talk about their successes and areas of needed growth. With these practices firmly in place, cultural competency becomes a standard and expectation in diverse environments.
Since its inception as Caring for First Nations Children Society more than 25 years ago, Indigenous Perspectives Society’s core function has been developing cultural competency within organizations working with Indigenous children and families. Out of the work we do to train and support those working directly with families we have created effective and comprehensive training for developing cultural competence in professional organizations. Cultural Perspectives Training is transforming how people work with their colleagues and clients, and the results of that are new partnerships that are contributing to community resilience and organizational endurance both through throughout British Columbia where we work primarily, and thanks to our work with federal agencies, across Canada.
“It (Cultural Perspectives Training) was a perfect balance of info that touched many folks emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. I don’t know any other training where the content has been so comprehensive and offered with such thoughtfulness, grace and good humour.” – Candice MacDonald, Manager Supportive Housing, Victoria Cool Aid Society
Rachelle Dallaire, Executive Director, Indigenous Perspectives Society
Each year, Indigenous Perspectives Society packs back pack transition kits for children in care. These back packs help children in care have a few things of their very own to help them get through a difficult time. This year MCFD Esquimalt, Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem Child and Family Services, Foster Family Support Services, Fraser Valley Aboriginal Child and Family Services, and Beecher Bay First Nation are partnering with us to help distribute 140 back packs to the children who need them.
Backpacks are assembled for a range of ages from 0-2, 3-5, 6-12, and 13-18. They include bibs, sippy cups, and toys for the little ones, tablets, mp3 players, books, puzzles and art supplies for the other age ranges. IPS would like to thank Gerry Denis and Tara Garnet from Staples on McCallum Road in Langford, British Columbia, who negotiated discounts on many items for the backpacks from their suppliers.
Launched in November 2013 through the leadership support of a private donor, the Children’s Aid Foundation’s Ted and Loretta Rogers Foster Care Transition Program aims to improve the experience of coming into care for children by providing items and resources that aid in their comfort, well-being, safety, and sense of security.