Cultural Responsiveness, Humility, and Safety in Engagement
To approach engagement in a culturally humble manner, we must reflect on the power we hold in our roles. This involves reflecting on personal and cultural privilege as well as understanding Canada’s colonial history − the primary root cause of culturally unsafe experiences of care. Creating environments and relationships which foster cultural safety also implies advocacy for the conditions of health, including working to improve access to care, exposing the social, political, and historical context of health care, and interrupting unequal power relations.
Cultural responsiveness implies an understanding of and respect for a person’s culture and that meaningful efforts are made to ensure that culture is factored into health care services being delivered.
Cultural safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system. It speaks to an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care. Cultural safety is only achieved when the people receiving services say it has been achieved. In order to positively impact the health and wellness of people, health care needs to be culturally safe. This can be achieved through the practice of cultural humility.
Cultural humility comprises a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic conditioned biases, and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a life-long learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience. It exemplifies an awareness of having reached the limit of understanding and recognizing the need to ask more questions and seek more information.
Culturally responsive and humble engagement includes:
- Ensuring the people or group to be engaged with are included in the initial planning stages;
- Comprehensive and meaningful engagement with people who have lived experience related to the engagement focus;
- Showing respect by learning about and following community protocols for knowledge seeking and sharing;
- Fostering collaborative problem identification and solving through listening and knowledge sharing rather than telling: talk less, listen more;
- Ensuring equity and dignity for all participating communities, organizations and individuals;
- Building on strengths and avoiding negative labelling; and
- Committing to processes to ensure transparency and accountability.