Cultural Humility

Southern Ontario is probably the most diverse community in the world, with over 190 languages spoken.  In the field of social service, we are challenged with engaging a demographic of peoples that is exceptional in its richness of differences and uniqueness. In attempting to serve such a population a program of learning was developed to become culturally competent. Unfortunately we learned quickly that the notion of ‘competence’ of another’s individual expression of culture was misinformed, and at best, biased. 


What has evolved in a manner that fosters an individual-centered approach is the positioning of one’s self in a state of humility to be taught by the individual we are serving who and how they express their culture. This is especially important when addressing a journey of grief and loss, where an individual’s sense of self, and its expression as such, changes through the journey, in essence being a ‘moving target’.  Thus it changes, and we as service providers must move with the individual as they ‘teach us’ about their personal expression of their culture.


For this to happen, we must be in a place of humility, complete lack of bias and judgment, to harvest a presence of what is called ‘the teach me method’. We become the individual’s student and all manner of engagement will be directed towards learning how the person self-expresses their personal culture as it applies to their dynamic and ever changing journey of loss.

In this session we explore the notion of personal culture as it intersects with organizational culture. Using experiential practice, we look inward to unearth our unconscious and unperceived biases as they are reflected in our work, and often times, misaligned with our organizational values.