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“We are all cultural beings”: My Experience at the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion UnConference

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Categories: Patient Voice Mail, Working Together for Better Health Care

Bev Pomeroy smiles into the camera. They are wearing a white button down shirt.

My name is Bev Pomeroy, I prefer to use they/them pronouns. I had the privilege of attending the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion Unconference this past May. The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) is a made-in-Canada solution designed to help employers, diversity and inclusion/human rights/equity and human resources practitioners effectively address the full picture of diversity, equity and inclusion within the workplace.

One great benefit of being an active patient partner in the Patient Voices Network is the opportunity to apply for sponsorships to attend conferences and events. In COVID times, those opportunities have been plenty with most if not all conferences shifting to virtual formats.

This year has been particularly challenging with COVID highlighting gaps that many of us already experience in our health care system. EDI, DEI, JEDI+ are all acronyms you may be seeing in our communities of care: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion.

The conference content was arranged into three learning blocks, each with a plenary presentation: Self-Awareness, Awareness of Others and the Art of Allyship. The intention of the conference was for attendees to become more culturally competent. Cultural competence is broken into four quadrants, however it is widely agreed that the first and most important is awareness of one’s own worldview. It’s from this lens that we navigate our life full of conscious and unconscious bias.

As a queer, white, bereft parent, patient partner and uninvited settler living on the unceded territories of the Snunéymuxw First Nation and Coast Salish people, my living experience will naturally influence my own worldview. According to Deanna Matzanke, a plenary speaker, “The more we understand ourselves and the lens we place on the world, the easier it becomes to develop skills to be inclusive towards those who might have a different worldview.”

I can’t help but think that this very much applies to patient partnering. Despite my living experience, which I think is rich, I learned that my lens is still incredibly narrow when I consider the enormity of cultural identities and intersections within our communities of care. “We are all cultural beings,” said Anne-Marie Pham, the event’s opening speaker.

Self-awareness was highlighted in the conference as a key component to cultural competence. That may seem incredibly simplistic, but for many it’s incredibly challenging, myself included. To be self-aware, we need to self-reflect. No one wants to look in the mirror and assess their values, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, motivations, etc. and how they may affect our interactions in the world. Self-reflection is uncomfortable but necessary if we want to become culturally competent and inclusive towards those who might have a different worldview.owever

The conference was very corporate driven with a number of proprietary tools to support self-reflection, one being the IDC – The Intercultural Development Continuum. However, most were based on the DMIS – Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. I have linked both and while it isn’t an endorsement, I do recommend checking them out, especially the DMIS which identifies six stages, all of which are a continuum. I also encourage everyone to keep learning through their own self-reflection.

To end the conference, there was a cake baking competition between three bakers across Canada who baked their own version of a culturally competent cake (say that five times fast).

There were too many takeaways to list but something I will have posted on my desk is the Positive Participation Guidelines which we can all use in our partnership meetings, conferences and conversations:

  1. No guilt, shame or blame.
  2. Be here. Be present.
  3. Be open-minded.
  4. Leave the stories; take the ideas.
  5. Lean into the uncomfortable.
  6. Challenge ideas, not people.
"Positive Participation" at the top. Below is six yellow rectangles, organized with three across and two down. Top left: "No guilt, shame, or blame". Top middle: "Be here. Be present." Top right: "Be open-minded." Bottom right: "Leave the stories; take the ideas." Bottom middle: "Lean into the uncomfortable." Bottom right: "Challenge ideas not people."

If you would like to connect further with Bev about their experience at the CCDI conference, you can email or follow them on Twitter @beverleypomeroy.

Author: Bev Pomeroy, Patient Partner

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PVN has really helped us engage with patient partners to improve health services at Northern Health.  It is more and more becoming the norm to include patients in the design, delivery and evaluation of health services.  PVN education and supports, involving patient partners, have enabled us to develop the capacity to include the patient voice to make care better and achieve better health outcomes.