A culturally safe environment

“Earning the trust of Indigenous patients, families and communities will take time. The work to examine and decolonize hospital practices is ongoing and we remain committed to creating culturally safer services for children and families as part of SickKids’ reconciliation journey.”  

– Karima Karmali, Director, Centre for Innovation & Excellence in Child and Family-Centred Care 

As work continues to improve health for Indigenous populations, SickKids remains committed to collaborating with partners to identify, prioritize, and implement improvements to ensure accessible, culturally safe services for Indigenous children and families, not only at SickKids but across the province. Reforming care, research and education at SickKids to respect Indigenous traditions and ways of healing is a key priority of SickKids 2025.

SickKids has made progress in advancing cultural safety to support Indigenous patients, families and staff, including launching an Indigenous Health Council and recruiting a Health Navigator & Patient Experience Specialist to provide direct support to patients and families. The navigator draws on Indigenous ways of knowing and healing to support Indigenous children and families and to help advance Indigenous health at SickKids. Support provided includes facilitating traditional Indigenous healing ceremonies at SickKids; connecting Indigenous patients and families to Elders and healers for spiritual and emotional support; providing information about health services and local community resources (such as sweat lodges and sacred spaces); and helping to address concerns about care and services. The navigator also informs the development of policies, procedures and guidelines that support Indigenous healing, customs and practices, such as SickKids’ Open Flame Smudging Ceremony Policy. Dedicated space has been allocated for an Indigenous Healing Centre in interim and final phases of our hospital redevelopment plans, with input from Indigenous advisors.

Regular commemoration of Indigenous days of significance help raise awareness of Indigenous health issues within SickKids and include educational offerings for staff focusing on culturally safe care. Beyond our walls, dialogue with remote Indigenous community partners is underway on how SickKids can support health needs in these communities.