Cultural Safety Exploring the Applicability of the Concept of Cultural Safety to Aboriginal Health and Community Wellness

  • Simon BrascoupĂ© Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University
  • Catherine Waters
Keywords: Colonization, cultural safety, healing and wellness, historical trauma, social determinants of health


The goal of the research paper is to explore both the concept of cultural safety and its practical implications for policies and programs designed to improve the health of Aboriginal people and the wellness of Aboriginal communities. The paper demonstrates the concept of cultural safety can shift from a being a tool to deliver health care services to individuals to a new and wider role. The concept of cultural safety can have a significant impact the way policy and services are developed at an institutional level in fields such as health, education, the courts, universities, and governance (both First Nations and other types of government). Four case studies at the end of the research paper show how cultural safety has helped communities at risk and in crisis engage in healing that led to lasting change. The research paper, defines cultural safety and how it differs from cultural competence or trans-cultural training and practices; shows why it’s important to move from the concept of cultural safety to the outcome of cultural safety, namely the success of an interaction; explores the idea of a shift from cultural safety for individuals to cultural safety at institutional and policy levels; and provides recommendations in five areas.