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Equity, Diversity & Inclusion: Religion & Spirituality

This Libguide is about equality, diversity, and inclusion in healthcare.

Religion and Spirituality can influence healthcare decision making and provide patients with coping mechanisms that are beneficial to their health. Recognizing these factors in healthcare is one way providers can deliver culturally competent care to their patients. 

Religion and Spirituality

Religion is a set of organized beliefs, practices, and systems that most often relate to belief and worship of a controlling force such as a personal god or another supernatural being. While this is a basic definition, there are many different understandings of what religion is and not all religions are centered on a belief in a god, gods, or supernatural forces.

Religion often involves cultural beliefs, worldviews, texts, prophecies, revelations, and morals that have spiritual meaning to members of the particular faith, and it can encompass a range of practices including sermons, rituals, prayer, meditation, holy places, symbols, trances, and feasts.

Spirituality is the broad concept of a belief in something beyond the self. It may involve religious traditions centering on the belief in a higher power, but it can also involve a holistic belief in an individual connection to others and to the world as a whole.

Religion, belief and culture should be recognized in healthcare as potential sources of moral purpose and personal strength amidst the experience of ill-health, healing, suffering and dying. They should not be viewed solely or primarily as sources of problems in the delivery and reception of care. Rather, religion, belief and culture can mutually enhance the welfare of both clinicians and patients amidst the everyday challenges of patient experience and clinical practice. The conduct of medical practice should be informed by discerning application of this general principle. In particular, communication between doctors and patients and between healthcare staff should attend sensitively to the possible welfare benefits of religion, belief and culture. (Source)

Culture is the beliefs, values and behaviors that are shared within a group, such as a religious group or nation. Culture includes language, customs, and beliefs about roles and relationships. (Source)

Religion and Spirituality in Healthcare

Integrating into Patient Care

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CMCC eBooks

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Indigenous Spirituality

There is no definitive and overarching “Indigenous religion.” Spiritual beliefs vary widely, as do the cultural practices of contemporary Indigenous peoples in Canada. However, there are commonalities among Indigenous spiritual traditions, including the presence of creation stories, the role of tricksters or of supernatural beings in folklore and the importance of sacred organizations.

Different Indigenous nations have their own religious institutions and sacred practices. Many Plains Indigenous peoples participate in the Sun Dance, while Coast Salish peoples typically engage in sacred winter ceremonies. The Haudenosaunee celebrate the Green Corn Ceremony, and some follow the False Face Society. Among the Ojibwe, the Midewiwin is a spiritual society and essential part of the Anishinaabe world view. Medicine bundles — objects of ritual that are specific to the person carrying them — are common among the spiritual traditions of various Indigenous peoples, including the Siksika, Cree and Ojibwe. (Source)

The role of Spiritual Healers, also known as Shaman, was well understood in pre-contact times, and today as well spiritual wellness is considered a necessary part of whole health among First Nations in BC. Oral history and continuing practices confirm these deeply held beliefs. Throughout history there have been specialist healers who use plants to heal a wide range of ailments. First Nations throughout BC have developed intimate understandings of their environment and the healing qualities of many plants, some of which are also used during ceremonies and for other spiritual reasons.  (Source)

Religious Diversity in Canada

Divine diversity: is it time to talk about religion in Canada?

Religion, along with politics, has long been considered taboo to talk about in polite company. Why? There are always going to be different opinions, leading to heated, often contentious discussion. Most people would rather avoid the debate, even though the topic is personally important to many. So is there ever a good time to talk about religion? (Read More)

Some argue that, in fact, Canadian secularism is residually Christian, that is, it still bears the imprint of its Christian past, and consequently has not addressed Christian privilege sufficiently. For example, our major social institutions in the realm of education, healthcare and social services are largely structured after their Christian predecessors – even though each has been thoroughly secularized. Canadian public culture is still marked by Christian values about what is allowable, reasonable, desirable or extreme. Consequently, secular Canada is more open to religious communities that have adapted themselves to liberal Protestant norms. (Source)

Open Access eJournals

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