Cultural safety in emergency support services
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Wildfire and flood events of recent years have stretched and tested British Columbia’s Emergency Support Services (ESS) system; a provincial program designed by Emergency Management BC (EMBC) to support evacuees. As evidenced by after action reviews from the 2017 and 2018 wildfire and flood seasons, in many areas ESS approaches fell short of providing adequate support to Indigenous communities. This thesis, designed using Indigenous research methodologies and action research engagement principles, is centred around the question: “How might emergency management practitioners braid cultural safety and a respect, honouring and celebration of Indigenous traditional knowledge, and community-based practices into ESS training and practices?” This project was designed following the Royal Roads University Ethics Policy and the Tri-Council Ethical Guidelines. It involved virtual Circle Way group sessions and one-on-one semi-structured interviews with 23 Indigenous emergency management and support organization practitioners from across the province. Participants defined 'cultural safety' within the ESS context and provided recommendations for a system of evacuee care that is culturally safe, relevant, and supports the holistic (mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical) well-being of all people. This research will inform future ESS policies and program guidelines and contribute to academic knowledge through its exploration of the intersections of Indigenous experience, knowledge and culturally safe practices in emergency management.
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