Increasing Indigenous Cultural Safety in Local Governments

The UBCM First Nations Relations Committee has been working with the BC Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) since February 2015 to promote San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training (ICS) for BC elected officials and local government staff. This training represents an opportunity to increase Indigenous cultural safety in local government settings. A pilot local government cohort took the training in September 2015, with feedback from the group overwhelmingly positive. UBCM and PHSA now seek expressions of interest from local governments—or individual elected officials and staff—who wish to take ICS training.

Training dates proposed for 2016/2017 are as follows, subject to enrolment:

April 25, 2016
July 4, 2016
October 3, 2016
January 9, 2017

Course Structure

Skilled facilitators guide and support each participant through the training, which is completed entirely online. The ICS Core training takes approximately five to eight hours to complete (depending on prior knowledge and learning style) over a six-week time frame.

The course fee is $250 per participant.

Questions: Local Governments & ICS

Below, local government representatives will find basic information about the training and its benefits. Please visit the San’yas website,, for a full FAQ, additional training information, and resources.

Is this training customized for local governments?
The local government ICS training is open only to local government elected officials and staff. The training provides a unique opportunity to engage in dialogue with colleagues regarding Indigenous cultural safety in local government settings, and in the community more broadly.

What was the feedback from the local government pilot project?

“The ICS training was invaluable. It gave me a new understanding, at a deep level, of the catastrophic effects of colonization on indigenous people. Only through understanding can we move forward effectively and create meaningful partnerships, truly appreciating the very exciting times ahead.”

“I would recommend taking the PHSA Indigenous Cultural Competency training to any local government staff or elected officials interested in deepening their understanding of Aboriginal history and learning about culturally safe approaches to working with Aboriginal communities. This training allows individuals to critically examine the role that social, political, and historical contexts have played in shaping interactions between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. I found particularly interesting video clips made available as part of the training showing first hand various challenges that Aboriginal peoples face today.”

“The format of the training was very engaging and powerful. It provided many opportunities for reflection, and for discussion with other local government representatives. The facilitator was very skilled, and posed questions that deepened my thinking and understanding of the past, and of colonial legacies that linger today. I would highly recommend this training.”

What is Indigenous cultural competency?
Indigenous Cultural Competency refers to knowledge, enhanced self-awareness, and skills that enable service providers to work more respectfully and effectively with Indigenous people. Knowledge includes information on the concept of culture, the cultural diversity among the Indigenous peoples, and understanding the context and legacy of colonization. Self-awareness means examining one’s own cultural assumptions, beliefs, and attitudes with respect to Indigenous people. Skills involve developing enhanced strategies, tools, and techniques that will contribute to positive working relationships.

What is Indigenous Cultural Safety Training (ICS)?
The ICS training is a unique, facilitated on-line training program designed to increase knowledge, enhance self-awareness, and strengthen the skills of those who work both directly and indirectly with Aboriginal people. The goal of the ICS training is to develop and promote individual competencies and positive partnerships.

What comprises the Core ICS training?
Five core modules are used to explore foundational issues of cultural competency:

  1. Introduction
  2. Culture and Canada's Indigenous People
  3. Colonization and its Legacies
  4. Images of Indigenous People
  5. Cultural Competency at Work

What can I expect to get out of the course?
The training provides a space to explore and discuss how to enhance services to Indigenous people.

Skilled facilitators guide and support each participant through dynamic and interactive learning modules. Participants will learn about terminology; diversity; aspects of colonial history such as Indian residential schools and Indian Hospitals, time line of historical events; and contexts for understanding social disparities and inequities. Through interactive activities participants examine culture, stereotyping, and the consequences and legacies of colonization. Participants will also be introduced to tools for developing more effective communication and relationship building skills.

Is there additional training?
For participants who have completed the ICS Core Training, additional post-training is available, including “From Bystander to Ally”.

This training is a facilitated, interactive module that helps you explore how you can become an effective ally when you think that racism, bias, or stereotyping is impacting the service an Aboriginal person is receiving. You will learn about ways to assess a situation that you suspect has elements of bias or racism and then develop some strategies to use that will be effective for you. It is our hope that you will find these tools useful and in using them, you will be a powerful agent for change—personally, and professionally. This post-training is currently available free of charge.

ICS Supports Reconciliation

Participation in the ICS training also represents a concrete step toward Call to Action #57 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which urges all orders of government to provide skills-based intercultural competency training to public servants.


Training space is limited. Interested local governments, elected officials and local government staff are asked to email Angela Turner, Policy Analyst, UBCM by Wednesday, March 30, 2016.

Meta Navigation