Diversity and Inclusion

Working together to make a difference!

What is Culture?

Culture refers to a group or community that share common experiences that shape the way its members understand the world (DHW, 2011).

When we think of culture it is important to remember that we belong to many cultural groups. They all shape the way we see the world. Our viewpoints are influenced by a lifetime of learning and group affiliation.

Culture Is...

  • Commonly Understood by those who share it
  • Learned from birth, through language and socialization
  • Traditions and rituals what is done, when it is done and how it is done?
  • Unconscious not only commonly understood, but it is unconscious and automatic
  • Values that determine the Rules of Engagement with situations and events in our lives 

 (Srivastava, 2006)

What is Cultural Competency?

Cultural competencies are a set of consistent attitudes, knowledge, skills, behaviours and policies required to effectively meet the needs of all the people we serve.

Question to Consider:

  • What would you say about your culture?

What is Cultural Humility?

Cultural humility is a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.

(First Nations Health Authority)

The Majority of Culture is Below the Surface

Surface Culture

has a relatively low emotional load
Examples: Dancing, music, books, language, games, holidays, art, clothing, food

Deep Culture

consists of unspoken and unconscious rules:
  • Unspoken rules have a very high emotional load
    Examples: Personal space, rules of conduct, tone of voice, body language, nonverbal cues
  • Unconscious rules have an intense emotional load
    Examples: Attitudes towards elders, concept of self, tolerance of pain, roles in relation to age, sex, etc.

(Kohls, 1979)

Health Literacy and Cultural Competency

Culture and health care are linked. The way an individual receives care within the context of their culture can impact health outcomes. Our culture determines the food we like to eat, our approach to healthcare and what we need when we are unwell and the role our family plays in how we care for each other during times of illness.

Questions to Consider:

  • What factors do you see influencing your patients or their families?
  • Can you find ways to be more inclusive of other cultures?



First Nations Health Authority. (2019). Cultural Humility. Retrieved from https://www.fnha.ca/wellness/wellness-and-the-first-nations-health-authority/cultural-safety-and-humility July 2, 2019.

Kohls, L. R. (1979). Survival kit for overseas living. Chicago, Ill: Intercultural Network/SYSTRAN Publications.

Rhymes, J., Dunbar, P., Harrigan, K., & Headley, L. (2011). Cultural Competence Assessment Tool for Clinical Guideline Development. Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness. Retrieved from https://novascotia.ca/dhw/diversity/documents/cultural-competence-assess-tool.pdf June 11, 2019.

Srivastava, R. (2006). The healthcare professional's guide to clinical cultural competence. Elsevier Health Sciences.