New employee training program to strengthen cultural awareness and safety

December 22, 2021

The topic of cross-cultural awareness preparation for all staff, faculty and administration at SFU was discussed extensively during the former Aboriginal Reconciliation Council’s open forums in 2016-2017. As these discussions progressed, they broadened from an examination of cross-cultural awareness to a broader scope of cultural safety. A new RESPECT (Reconcili-action – Employee – SFU – Professional development – Education – Cultural – Teachings) project evolved out of these discussions and responds to SFU’s 2017 Walk this Path With Us report by bringing these two important elements together. Specifically, the RESPECT project addresses call to action 7 for SFU to “develop mandatory intervention programs teaching cultural safety and anti-racism for all employees of SFU, in consultation with the Indigenous Cultural Resource Centre”.

Led by professor Michelle Pidgeon, associate dean, Indigeneity, Faculty of Education, the RESPECT project encompasses five key goals:

  1. Create an understanding of how to build respectful and sustainable relationships with the host nations of SFU to ensure employees honour First Nations knowledge, language, culture and protocols.
  2. Build SFU employees’ understanding of Indigenous Peoples’ past, present and future.
  3. Ensure all SFU employees take up their individual responsibility to reconciliation through the collective work of decolonization and Indigenization.
  4. Foster and sustain a culture of lifelong (un)learning and respect among SFU employees.
  5. ‘Enhance’ ongoing professional development in the areas of cultural safety, decolonization, and Indigenization for SFU employees at all three campuses.

Over the summer 2020 semester and into early fall 2021, the RESPECT project conducted a survey of staff and faculty to determine what information is most sought by SFU community members. The results of this survey will inform the content and format of the upcoming RESPECT course, with an anticipated pilot launch in spring 2022. For more information please visit the RESPECT project website.