Truth and Reconciliation

What responsibilities do RNs have with regard to the recommendations found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action?

“In order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation,” recommendations 18 through 24 contain health-related calls to action (1). Every RN is held to a standard of practice in which culturally safe care is provided. RNs, through continuing competence, can begin to explore the recommendations individually and in groups to assist our health care system in moving forward with the recommendations and promoting reconciliation.

  • RNs incorporate knowledge that reflects a deep understanding and respect for different ways of knowing which exhibits cultural competence and cultural humility (2).
  • RNs practice a holistic, family-centred approach to ensuring culturally-safe client care (3).
  • RNs have a responsibility to conduct themselves according to the ethical responsibilities outlined in the CNA Code of Ethicsand in practice standards. This must be considered in what they do and how they interact with persons receiving care and other members of the health care team (4).
  • RNs collaborate with other health care providers and other interested parties to maximize health benefits to persons receiving care and those with health care needs, recognizing and respecting the knowledge, skills and perspectives of all (5).
  • RNs refrain from judging, labelling, stigmatizing and humiliating behaviors towards persons receiving care or toward other health care providers, students and each other (6).

What are some ideas I can use with my team to create a unit culture that embraces and takes action towards reconciliation?

There are several things you may do:

  • Engage the staff in exploring ideas on what might help create a culturally competent unit.
  • Invite an elder to a staff meeting to teach Indigenous ways of knowing.
  • Watch videos and explore websites related to truth and reconciliation. Discuss your learnings as a group to deepen your understanding.
  • Offer a general cultural diversity education session about being aware of behaviours and how they can impact someone else.
  • Invite an Indigenous RN to share cultural beliefs regarding Indigenous health issues.
  • Create a small lending library of materials people can borrow and read.
  • Remind staff of the organizational mission, vision and value statements that include cultural competence. Consider incorporating cultural competence into your unit’s value statements.
  • Explore learning modules that offer cultural awareness.
  • Contact Saskatchewan Health Authority First Nations and Metis Relations for support.
  • Connect with the Anti-Racism Network based in Saskatoon.
  • Consider including an acknowledgement of traditional lands at the start of meetings.
  • As a unit, act on a priority health initiative highlighted in the TRC recommendation #19 and share your progress and key learnings.
  • Become familiar with research and initiatives focused on Indigenous health.

CRNS Resources

Code of Ethics for registered nurses (2017)

Registered Nurse Practice Standards (2019)

Registered Nurse Entry-Level Competencies (2019)

External Resources

RNAO Nursing Best Practice Guidelines.  Embracing Cultural Diversity in Health Care: Developing Cultural Competence (2007)

Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) Position Statement: Promoting Cultural Competence in Nursing (2018)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action

Cultural Awareness Learning Module

Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health

Anti-Racism Network

Resource Key
1Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Actionp. 2-3
2Registered Nurse Practice Standards (2019)Indicator 16, p. 5
3Registered Nurse Practice Standards (2019)Indicator 28, p. 6
4Code of Ethics (2017)p. 8, A1
5Code of Ethics (2017)p. 10, B4
6Code of Ethics (2017)p. 15, F3


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