CFHI and Nunavut Celebrate Graduation of Trainers in Indigenous Cultural Competence

Ottawa, Canada – March 17, 2017 – The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and the Government of Nunavut today announced that the territory’s first cohort of trainers in Indigenous Cultural Competence has now been certified, paving the way for more culturally safe health and social services. The milestone will be celebrated at a graduation ceremony in Iqaluit attended by the Minister of Culture and Heritage, the Hon. George Kuksuk, Minister of Health, the Hon. George Hickes, Minister of Education, the Hon. Paul Quassa as well as Deputy Minister of Health, Colleen Stockley and Deputy Minister of Culture and Heritage, Pauloosie Suvega.

Over three three-day sessions in early 2017, CFHI trained employees of Nunavut’s departments of Health, Education, and Culture and Heritage to deliver CFHI’s Indigenous Cultural Competence. This training equips front-line staff with the knowledge and skills to serve Indigenous clients with better quality and more respect. In health and social services, cultural competence is crucial to providing patients with safe care.

“The Government of Nunavut’s current mandate includes many components that reflect Inuit values and expectations. As a people, our societal values are deeply rooted in the very design of our consensus government; it is, therefore, our job to pass these principles on, not only to our next generation, but to all those who decide to call Nunavut their home,” said Pauloosie Suvega, Deputy Minister, The Department of Culture and Heritage, Government of Nunavut. “Programs that train our public employees in cultural competencies help ensure that this mandate is fulfilled.”

Providing culturally competent services to Indigenous so they feel culturally safe was one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action. Inuit, First Nations and Métis in Canada face more health challenges than other Canadians, including higher rates of chronic diseases, infectious diseases, suicide and a gap in life expectancy. In Nunavut from 2009-13, the suicide rate for Inuit was 116.7 deaths per 100,000 while the national rate during that same time was 11.3 per 100,000. But some Indigenous communities have successful health services and outcomes. Part of the solution to closing the gap in health outcomes is to rebuild the sense of cultural safety that Indigenous patients and clients need to trust the services provided for them.

“It is a real honour for CFHI to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the Government of Nunavut on Indigenous Cultural Competence,” said CFHI President Maureen O’Neil. “We are committed to collaborating with partners to close the gap in Indigenous health and we look forward to supporting the Government of Nunavut as they deliver this course.”

Using a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach, the eight facilitators are now able to deliver CFHI’s Indigenous Cultural Competence course within the territory and beyond. Facilitator manuals have been developed for Nunavut trainers and ongoing support by CFHI will include learning materials, course evaluation and analysis, and co-facilitation opportunities. The Government of Nunavut expects to deliver its first session in April 2017.

“The training has really empowered us as Inuit,” says Inuit Quajimajatuqangit Director and newly certified facilitor, Shuvinai Mike. “For me, I finally found a strategy that helps to shift people’s thinking and reframe how I advocate for my people.”

The impact of residential schools across generations continues to pose challenges for the health and mental health of some Indigenous peoples. CFHI helps teams and organizations learn more about how history – including residential schools – can affect health outcomes today, as well as trust in health systems. CFHI is committed to supporting partners to contribute to closing the gap in Indigenous health, through sharing knowledge, facilitating partnerships, and encouraging a vision of reconciliation.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement identifies proven innovations and accelerates their spread across Canada, improving patient care, the health of Canadians and value-for-money. CFHI is a not-for-profit organization funded through an agreement with the Government of Canada. Visit for more information.

For more information, please contact:
Tamir Virani
Communications and Stakeholder Relations Officer
Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
T: 613-728-1318 x 232
C: 613-410-2617


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