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“Rewriting” Cultural Safety Within the Postcolonial and Postnational Feminist Project: Toward New Epistemologies of Healing

Anderson, Joan RN, PhD; Perry, JoAnn RN, PhD; Blue, Connie RN, BSN; Browne, Annette RN, PhD; Henderson, Angela RN, PhD; Khan, Koushambhi Basu PhD; Kirkham, Sheryl Reimer RN, PhD; Lynam, Judith RN, MSN; Semeniuk, Pat RN, MA; Smye, Vicki RN, MHSc


The concept of cultural safety, developed by indigenous nurses in the postcolonial climate of New Zealand, has not been widely examined in North America. In this article we explicate the theoretical and methodological issues that came to the forefront in our attempts to use this concept in our research with different populations in Canada. We argue that this concept prompts us to “think critically” about ourselves and our patients, and to be mindful of our own sociocultural, economic, and historical location. This critical reflection has implications for how we live, relate to one another, and practice in our various professional disciplines. On the basis of our findings, we discuss how the concept might be rewritten within a critical postcolonial and postnational feminist discourse.

From the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia, Langley. (Anderson)

School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Langley. (Perry, Browne, Henderson, Khan, Blue, Lynam)

The Trinity Western University, Langley. (Kirkham)

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (Semeniuk)

The School of Nursing, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (Smye)

We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the research on which this article is based. We thank the health care agencies and health professionals who participated in this study. Our thanks to Ruth Coles for championing this research, Sannie Tang for her thoughtful reading of this article, the research assistants who participated in data collection, and Sue Humphrys, the Research Secretary. Our greatest thanks must be to the men and women who allowed us into their lives, and who shared their stories with us. We alone must remain responsible for whatever shortcomings are present.

Corresponding author: Joan Anderson, RN, PhD, School of Nursing, T201-2211 Wesbrook Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada V6T 2B5 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.