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Cultural safety training

Queen's Family Medicine to Introduce Cultural Safety Training into Curriculum

Guest blog by Dr. Hugh Langley,  Assistant Professor in the Queen's Department of Oncology and Primary Care and Aboriginal Lead, Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario 

First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNIM) peoples bear a disproportionately high cancer burden and face a number of health disparities, barriers and gaps to health services. One barrier FNIM people face is fear and at times mistrust of the health care system that can lead to lower use of cancer prevention and screening services. Also, when symptoms arise, many may delay seeking help or completing treatments.

However, when FNIM people experience culturally safe health care they are more likely to access care earlier, feel more at ease and empowered throughout the process of receiving care; share details about their health concerns and care preferences, return for follow up visits and follow treatment plans recommended by health care providers. In short, cultural safety is a critical component for improving patient experiences/outcomes.

One of the most impactful ways that FNIM people can feel culturally safe is through their interactions with health care providers. Recognizing this, Cancer Care Ontario has developed online Aboriginal Relationship and Cultural Competency (ARCC) courses, which help healthcare professionals to learn about FNIM peoples and how to provide care in a culturally safe manner.

The Queen’s Family Medicine Residency Program will be implementing the ARCC courses as part of their mandatory curriculum for residents.  Dr. Eva Purkey is the Director of Global Health and Health Equity and states: “These courses and other activities will allow our residents learn how they can provide a positive and culturally safe environment for their Indigenous patients and families”.

I encourage all programs and institutions that have a responsibility on training and teaching the health care professionals of tomorrow to also incorporate these courses into their curriculum.  The courses are interactive and address a key recommendation from the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report, to provide skills-based training in cultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

Currently, the ARCC courses have over 10,000 course enrollments and a course completion rate of 81 per cent. The courses are free of charge and can be taken at anytime, anywhere by anyone. We are thrilled to be able to acknowledge and thank Queen’s Family Medicine for this landmark move in helping to build an inclusive health care system and look forward to seeing the participation and interest in building culturally safe spaces spread across Canada.

To take the ARCC courses, please visit https://www.cancercareontario.ca/en/resources-first-nations-inuit-metis/first-nations-inuit-metis-courses

For more information on how your faculty or institution can begin this work, please contact our Aboriginal Navigator at Dionne.Nolan@kingstonhsc.ca



Henry Dinsdale

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 11:29

The Comments on Cultural Training reminded me of the need to be aware of unexpected cultural factors when caring for the Inuit. Shortly after Queen's began to take responsibility for care in portions of the Arctic, I had a young Inuit patient referred from the Belcher Islands. He had experienced a single epileptic seizure. Investigations proved normal and he was advised (through an interpreter) that we would make arrangements for him to return, After receiving this news he became withdrawn, tearful and said he did not want go back to his community. Through discussion with an elder in Appawapiskat, we were advised that the Belcher Island community held a variety of beliefs including interpreting a convulsion as a sign of visitation from an evil spirit and might leave him at personal risk from his community if he returned. We then advised him that as an alternative we could make arrangements for him to return to the mainland. He was immediately relieved upon hearing that news, returned to the mainland and as far as I know remained well.

Henry Dinsdale

Hugh Langley

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 08:42

Thank you for the patient story Dr. Dinsdale.

At the South East Regional Cancer program, we are fortunate to have the services of Dionne Nolan as the Aboriginal Patient Navigator. Dionne provides support to people with cancer and their families who identify as having First Nations, Inuit or Metis ancestry. Dionne is a mixed blood Algonquin and Ojibwe and has been a member of the Katarokwi Aboriginal Community for over 15 years. Historically, in many Indigenous communities a cancer diagnosis was often very late with curative treatment impossible. Dionne helps patient understand their illness and treatments, leading to better treatment completion rates and outcomes. Like your patient and his communities’ view of his condition, there can be misconceptions about a cancer diagnosis. Dionne helps patients and families maintain hope after a cancer diagnosis.
Donne’ work is highlighted in this article:


The Aboriginal Cancer Team for the south east (myself, Matthew Del Grosso and Dionne) welcome all to attend a workshop entitled “Building Health Equity in your Organization: How to Begin” at the Primary Health Care Forum on November 7, 2018 at the Ambassador Hotel in Kingston. Registration is free and will be posted at late this month at www.southeastlhin.on.ca .

Hugh Langley

Hugh Langley

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