Engaging Indigenous Families in a Community-Based Indigenous Early Childhood Programme in British Columbia, Canada: A Cultural Safety Perspective

Health Soc Care Community. 2017 Nov;25(6):1763-1773. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12450. Epub 2017 Jun 1.


This article is part of a larger study that explored how an Indigenous early intervention programme in British Columbia (BC), Canada, known as the 'Aboriginal Infant Development Program' (AIDP), influenced family and children's health and well-being and was responsive to child health inequities. Postcolonial feminist and Indigenous feminist perspectives provided a critical analytical lens to this qualitative inquiry. The study was undertaken with AIDPs based in diverse community organisations located in off-reserve urban municipalities throughout the province of BC. From September 2013 to March 2014, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with: Indigenous primary caregivers (n = 10), Indigenous Elders (n = 4), AIDP workers (n = 18) and administrative leaders (n = 3). The purpose of this article is to examine and analyse the findings that focus on how AIDP workers supported family and children's health and well-being by transforming their routine policies and practices in ways that fostered caregivers' active engagement in their programmes. Findings centre on three main themes: (i) overcoming mistrust; (ii) 'being willing to move a step forward' and (iii) resisting what's taken-for-granted. These inter-related themes are examined and discussed in relation to the concept of cultural safety. The findings have international relevancy for social and healthcare community-based programmes that are questioning how to engage with parents who may be hard to reach as a result of multi-faceted social and structural factors.

Keywords: Indigenous children; critical perspectives; cultural safety; early child development; family engagement; health equity.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • British Columbia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Services / methods*
  • Early Intervention, Educational*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research