UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From the margins : cultural safety from an Okanagan/Sqilxw perspective Mitchell, Vanessa


The purpose of this research project was to examine cultural safety from an Okanagan/Sqilxw perspective. Cultural safety is a term that originated in New Zealand with the Maori people in their need to address the health disparities and power imbalances within the institution of health. As cultural safety has become adapted in practice within the Interior Region, it became necessary to examine the concept closer with peoples of the Interior. As the Syilx (Okanagan) are one of the seven First Nations located in the Interior Region, and of which I am a member, this project was primarily conducted with Okanagan/Sqilxw members of the Okanagan Indian Band. The research was guided by participatory action research and Indigenous methodologies. The analytical framework was based on the enowkinwixw, which is an Okanagan/Sqilxw decision making process that undertakes serious issues of concern in the community. In order to ground this research in community, it was equally necessary that I abide by community ethics. Therefore, an Advisory Committee, formed solely of Okanagan Indian Band members, held my research and me accountable to community. Talking Circles was how community members were brought together to break down the terms culture and safety, and to discuss what cultural safety meant to them. In analyzing the contribution from community members, it is integral for Okanagan/Sqilxw to gain cultural confidence; that is, the confidence to voice one’s or people’s concerns and direction. Further, it is cultural safety that community and mainstream healthcare must strive for. Both are an investment in a lifelong journey into one’s self.

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