Indigenous Cultural Safety Course Summary

The Assembly of First Nations reported in 2007 that Aboriginals are 2.4 times more likely to smoke, 1.3 times more likely to be obese and 3 more times likely to have diabetes, compared to the general population. Doesn’t it seem like there is more to the surface? That it can’t just be coincidence that one demographic suffers from so much hardship? And if we offered you a reason why, would you want to know? Would it be enough for you to change the way you think, talk and care for you patients? Change in a way that made you more equipped to help them? By now you are probably familiar with Residential Schools, but do you know what is wrong in the movie Dances with Wolves? Did you know that every day an act of harm is done to an Aboriginal individual in the healthcare setting and as a cultural trait the victim will never speak of it? I know this because in the Indigenous Cultural Safety course I listen to health care professionals from across the country share their experiences with prejudice. I also learned how the media has created a problem with the native icon. In this essay I am going to explore the breadth of the course and the medium through which it communities its message. In summary, the course is an interactive multimedia platform that uses a well-rounded approach to explore Indigenous culture. After the eight modules you get rewarded with a certificate that hopefully will be recognized by our institution. This course is recommended for the curious individual. Someone who is willing to put the time and effort to critically think about this demographic. Someone who believes that the best way to alleviate the circumstances is through knowledge. I hope that someone is you.

The course starts off with everything that wasn’t but should have been included in high school geography and history. It goes into land claims, policies, institutions and uproars within the Canadian-Indigenous landscape. It also goes through all the different tribes in order to break the misconception that all Indigenous are the same. Furthermore, a whole section is dedicated to portrayals of Indigenous people in the media. This section is especially useful since movies, television and news report inform individuals who are socially isolated from Indigenous people about their culture. Even though this approach is all encompassing, all eight modules are tailored for healthcare professionals. The last one more directly by providing tips for health care professions encountering someone who identifies as Indigenous in their practice. The breadth of topics makes this course a fundamental overview of Aboriginal culture with special emphasis on healthcare. What is also impressive if the course’s embrace of many learning mediums.

The course needs to be credited for its use of multimedia. They use text, images, diagrams, video interviews and interactive scrolling timelines, which makes you wonder why more courses don’t make use of such a variety of mediums (see Figure 1). Not only are these mediums incorporated aesthetically, but it never overloads the computer and to my knowledge no plug-ins are required. The course monitors your progress by keep track of all the videos you watch, timelines you scroll through and reference links you click on (See Figure 2). Progress is also kept track through a “Task Complete” button at the end of each page that the participant is instructed to select. It is required in order to be credited for having done the work (See Figure 3). Only after completing all tasks is a module credited (See Figure 4). Some modules, such as history, included tests with grading that gave you feedback on your retention. At the end a certificate is awarded. Hopefully it will be recognized in our learning institution. The course accommodating different learning styles by using multimedia and created milestones that helped the learner keep track of their progress. The course offered many opportunities for interaction with other participants and instructors.

The course had a social component that ranged from journal reflections to group discussions. Since some modules included material about human rights injustices, these modules required journal reflections which were only visible to the instructors. The Instructors would contact participants privately and share appropriate and educated information specific to the topics raised. Since there is a timeline for the course, responses were quick. Other modules included health care delivery experiences. For these, group discussions offered participants a means to share their experiences and to give feedback to other’s posts. These were particularly useful because a variety of issues would be raised and a variety of input was provided. Being able to connect with others involved in health care practices and at a similar level of learning not only created a support group but added to the immediacy of the topic. Judging by how quickly the spots fill up, my guess is that this course reflects a growing movement for more exposure to the Aboriginal realm.

My hope is that everyone who is curious about the circumstances that lead to the health disparities amongst Canadian Aboriginal people is quenched. This course is one means to that dream. It is all encompassing and tailored to health care workers. Even as an individual who is already knowledgeable about the subject,  there were things to learn. For example, Dances with Wolves, which is a heartwarming movie also depicts the ‘white savior.’ This puts Aboriginals in perspective of dependents to the white settlers and reinforces an idea of subordinates. Knowledge about the atrocities imposed on this group is necessary to put an end to the prejudice and crime that is carried out on the daily. For the curious individual with a little time and effort to space, this could be a one-stop shop for your background information on Canadian Indigenous culture and toolbox for interacting in the healthcare setting.