Declaration of Cultural Safety

Committing to Safer Occupational Therapy for First Nations and Aboriginal People

Latest Resources

Gerlach, A. (2018, March). Exploring socially-responsive approaches to children’s rehabilitation with Indigenous communities, families and children. Prince George, BC: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health (NCCAH). Available at:

Occupational Therapists’ Commitment

1. Pledge Your Commitment by downloading the pledge card (PDF), make the commitment, snap a pic, use on social media or email to PHSA and they’ll post it for you!

Board Member Debbie Ruggiero
Board Member Jen Glasgow and Board Chair Joy Parsons
Board Member Elizabeth McLean

2. Attend and/or listen to the First Nations Health Authority and BC Patient Safety & Quality Council cultural safety and cultural humility webinar action series. Sign up now at

3. Spread the word about cultural safety and humility by using the sample tweets, Facebook posts, graphic illustration by Sam Bradd, posters and more ready for you now at

4. Watch the COTBC webinars on Indigenous Cultural Safety

5. Learn more at the First Nations Health Authority’s Cultural Humility Portal.

BC Health Regulators Sign the Declaration

On March 1, 2017 COTBC’s Registrar Kathy Corbett joined 22 other health regulatory bodies in B.C. and signed the Declaration of Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services Delivery for First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples in BC. This is a public acknowledgement of our commitment to improving occupational therapists’ care.

Joe Gallagher, CEO of the First Nations Health Authority indicated:

“With today’s commitment, the members of every regulated health profession in BC have permission to address prejudice and other problematic behaviours without fear of reprisal. This Declaration will ultimately make the health system safer not only for First Nations and Aboriginal people but for all British Columbians.”

Increasing the level of cultural safety through approaches such as cultural humility, health literacy and relationship-based care will assist in improving the quality of occupational therapy for First Nations and Aboriginal people. Unfortunately systemic racism and discrimination towards First Nations people continues to be a major problem in many contemporary health care settings. Systemic racism, which includes personal biases and unintentional stereotyping, leads to inappropriate interventions and barriers to accessing occupational therapy.

COTBC’s Commitment

Signing the Declaration reflects the high priority placed on advancing cultural safety and humility for Indigenous people among health regulated professionals by committing to actions and processes which will ultimately embed culturally safe practices within all levels of health professional regulation.

“We are committed to supporting occupational therapists’ cultural humility to improve cultural safety. In 2015 our pre-AGM workshop focused on Creating Culturally Safe Practices with Dr. Alison Gerlach and Cheryl Ward. Last Fall we were fortunate to have Dr. Gerlach return along with Jenny Morgan, to provide two webinars on Indigenous Cultural Safety,” Kathy Corbett explained. “But there is much more we can do both collectively and individually.”

The Declaration commits COTBC to report on our progress via annual reports outlining strategic activities that demonstrate how we are meeting our cultural safety commitment. During the 2016 annual registration, occupational therapists were asked if they had completed the San’yas Indigeneous Cultural Safety Training offered by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA).

Of the 2,160 renewing occupational therapists, only 12% had completed the training, 59% were not aware of the course, and 29% were aware but had not completed it.

This commitment opens the door to formally encouraging all occupational therapists to complete this or other cultural safety training.

The signing of the declaration was witnessed by over 230 delegates attending the 2017 Quality Forum “Best of Both Worlds” conference, a forum focused on improving the quality of health care for indigenous people.

The declaration is endorsed by the First Nations Health Authority and the Ministry of Health and was signed by their representatives and the members of the BC Health Regulators.

For further information, contact COTBC Registrar and Chief Executive Officer Kathy Corbett at