Facilitating Indigenous cultural safety and anti-racism training: affect and the emergence of new relationships and social change




Erb, Tara Lise

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While the uptake of cultural safety initiatives is increasing in professional environments, literature on cultural safety lacks reference to the lived experiences and demands of facilitating Indigenous cultural safety training. Using a qualitative and Indigenous approach, this study examined the various challenges and successes involved in facilitating Indigenous cultural safety and anti-racism training from the perspective of facilitators. The diverse sample comprised of 11 facilitators and included those who identified as Indigenous, non-Indigenous or mixed; those who identified as male or female; and those who have worked in post-secondary, healthcare and/or private sector environments. Findings indicate that facilitators, typically highly skilled and perceptive individuals grounded in their identity and critical race analyses, used affect and affective activities that challenge participants to interrogate the ways that power and privilege influence their everyday interpersonal and professional relationships. Affect theory describes the ways in which our bodies have the potential to be creative and respond in new ways; affect and affective activities in Indigenous cultural safety training increased the likelihood of a bodily emergence among participants, which is a necessary and critical turning point to create new relationships to land, others and self. Furthermore, the findings suggest that cultural safety training represents potentially risky spaces, as facilitators must constantly assess and manage the risks of harm, emotional distress and/or taxation for participants and themselves. Finally, the findings reveal possible supports necessary for facilitators to continue this important work. Overall, the findings demonstrate how affect and emergence is foundational to decolonialization and sustainable social change.



Indigenous cultural safety facilitation, anti-racism facilitation, decolonization, relationship-building, affect theory, emergence, risky spaces, facilitator wellbeing