Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is committed to creating an inclusive health care system that responds respectfully and effectively to the needs of First Nations and Métis people.
Part of establishing a culturally responsive system includes building awareness amongst all staff of First Nations and Métis history, treaties, culture and traditions through cultural responsiveness training.
In 2019-20, 95 per cent of newly hired employees – about 3,000 staff -- received the training as part of workplace orientation. The initial target, included in SHA’s business plan for the past fiscal year, was 50 per cent.
Andre Letendre, a cultural system advisor with First Nations and Métis Health, sets up a teepee for a sacred pipe ceremony. The ceremony brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff and other members of the community in the spirit of reconciliation.
“Improving cultural awareness is part of the commitment by the SHA executive and Board to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, which includes an appeal for cultural competency training for all health care professionals,” said Gabe Lafond, Executive Director of First Nations and Métis Health for the SHA.
“Through the training, you’re acknowledging the contributions of First Nations and Métis staff, physicians, patients, families and partners,” he said. “It leads to a better understanding of a way of life, and of language and beliefs, and it strengthens relationships and partnerships with First Nations and Métis communities.”
Creating a more culturally responsive organization leads to more culturally safe care, he continued.
“It improves the ability of individuals and systems to respond to Indigenous Peoples in a manner that preserves their dignity while, at the same time, improves their access to services, their quality of care and, ultimately, their health outcomes.”
The course content, which also includes a section on dispelling misconceptions, has been validated by SHA’s First Nations and Métis partners.
First Nations and Métis Health is working with Human Resources to capture the total number of SHA staff who have received the training. Two-thirds of former health region staff have taken some form of instruction.
In addition to the cultural responsiveness training provided at orientation, First Nations and Métis Health offers sessions on cultural conversations, provides information on topics including Truth and Reconciliation, creating an ethical space, trauma informed care, health equity and cultural safety, and facilitates the KAIROS blanket exercise.
The SHA formally committed to fulling the health Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on March 7, 2019. This work involves both recognizing the harms of the past and fostering meaningful and constructive relationships with our partners to develop programs and services that will work towards improving the health of Indigenous people.
This commitment includes embedding First Nations and Métis leadership throughout the organization, achieving a representative workforce, systemically using the wisdom of Elders, creating supports to help Indigenous patients, clients and residents navigate the health care system, fostering long-term partnerships by, for example, signing memorandums of understanding with First Nations and Métis leadership, and creating a culturally safe environment where all patients receive high-quality, safe, inclusive care that’s free from harm.
Lafond applauds SHA’s leadership for working with First Nations and Metis to achieve Truth and Reconciliation. “I want to recognize the commitment of our CEO and our Executive Leadership Team. They are truly committed to this process.”