Cultural Safety in the NWT Health and Social Services System

The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to embedding cultural safety into the health and social services system, with a focus on Indigenous residents as they make up over 50% of the NWT population, and have greater health disparities compared to other residents.

The Government released Caring for Our People:  Cultural Safety Action Plan 2018-2020 in February 2019 to provide direction in improving health outcomes for Indigenous residents.

The Action Plan outlines four objectives:

  1. Create an Organizational Culture of Cultural Safety

    Develop a whole health and social services system approach, including commitment from leadership, policies and organizational structures to embed cultural safety in the organization.
  2. Strengthen Staff Capacity for Cultural Safety

    Build and enhance staff capacity through training and other professional development supports to have the knowledge, skills and behaviors to provide appropriate and equitable care rooted in culturally safe practices.
  3. Honour Traditional Knowledge and Healing Approaches in Care

    Explore and incorporate ways in which traditional knowledge and healing approaches can respectfully be incorporated alongside existing health and social services programs and services.
  4. Improve Client and Community Experience

    Improve the client and community experience through culturally safe and relationship-based care, which puts the needs of clients and their families first.

What is Cultural Safety?

Cultural Safety is an outcome where Indigenous peoples feel safe and respected, free of racism and discrimination, when accessing health and social programs and services.

What is Relationship-Based Care?

Relationship-based care is an approach that puts the needs of clients and their families first, and results in a health and social services system that prioritizes relationships while removing barriers to achieving those relationships.

Work Done to Date:

  • Three pilot trainings with a cross section of staff including senior management, department and front line from the regions were held in December 2018 and January 2019.
  • Other participants invited to the pilots to provide feedback included Leadership Council, Indigenous Advisory Body and several Indigenous organizations.


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