Biigiiweyan (“Coming Home”): Social Work and Health Care with Indigenous Peoples from Competency to Safety
Cultural competency reproduces simplistic assumptions about Indigenous Peoples that are reminiscent of imperialism (Pon, 2009), directing service providers to become more sensitive to so called “norms”, “practices” and “behaviours” (Baskin, 2016). This freezes culture, ignores diverse languages and histories as well as the places and contexts that animate the realities of Indigenous Peoples. The result is limited understanding of the systemic and structural challenges and the skills needed by helpers to navigate and advocate against such barriers. Going beyond cultural competency to safety includes an awareness of ways in which “historical, economical, and social contexts” influence our position (Gerlach, 2012, p. 152) in terms of power and privilege. It recognizes current expressions of colonization and prioritizes Indigenous healing and wellness practices within helping relationships. Based on two years of research with Elders, Knowledge Keepers, community members, helping professionals, educators and students, Biigiiweyan is a cultural safety training model that offers a roadmap for educational and training programs to make the jump from competency to safety. Founded in Indigenous ways of knowing and relating, Biigiiweyan utilizes interprofessional training and live actor simulation and offers a rubric of cultural safety learning outcomes defined by Indigenous Peoples.
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