Cultural Safety for Health Coaches and Navigators

Program Overview

Develop knowledge and skills in cultural safety needed to create an inclusive environment and navigate diverse views on illness and healing, while maintaining a safe health care practice.


The responsibility to reduce harm and provide culturally safe care for all people is a mandated social imperative for all Canadian health care and service providers. To be an effective health coach or navigator serving diverse populations, you must be able to create and maintain a safe environment so that all your clients’ concerns can be clearly heard.

Culturally safe health care practice moves beyond the mere acknowledgement of the differences that multicultural patients bring to the healing relationship. It requires an examination of the impact of practitioner assumptions and implicit bias on the state of the therapeutic relationship. Self-reflection is therefore essential to the provision of culturally safe care.

This experiential and interactive one-day program will help you develop a deeper understanding of the social and systemic contributions to experiences of various marginalized people in the health care setting. You will also be able to better understand and address recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada mandate.

At the end of the program, you will earn a certificate of completion.

Optional: You also have the opportunity to earn one digital credential: Cultural Safety - Fundamental Skills credential. This program is also part of the learning pathway for the Health Coach Professional Certificate OR the Patient Navigator Professional Certificate.There is a non-refundable administration fee of $20+HST to apply for a digital credential (this fee includes up to 2 opportunities to pass a post-program online assessment, required to earn the digital credential). You will receive your digital credential(s) via email upon program completion and after passing a post-program online assessment.

How You Will Benefit:

Learn specific tools and techniques to promote multicultural understanding and practice empathetic navigation of diverse beliefs and experiences, with a specific focus on Indigenous populations.

What You Will Learn:

By the end of the program, you will be able to:

  • Build a framework to navigate cross-cultural approaches and beliefs on illness and ways of healing as a health coach or navigator.
  • Address recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada mandate to develop appropriate policy and practice.
  • Responsibly advocate for culturally safe care on behalf of multicultural and marginalized clients and communities.
  • Clarify basic concepts and theoretical perspectives pertaining to race and racism.
  • Explore historical and contemporary societal contributions to racism and its impacts on the social inclusion and exclusion of various groups of people.
  • Establish an openness to diversify perspectives on the experiences of others for the purpose of expanding culturally safe access to care.
  • Understand the impact of socially constructed biases on socially marginalized groups with a specific focus on the Indigenous First Nations peoples of Turtle Island.

Who Should Take This Program:

  • Health coaches and patient navigators.
  • Leadership and front-line health care and social services providers, or researchers seeking to implement/improve cultural safety in their practice or projects.
  • Any individual or committee responsible for forming cultural safety policies or implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada mandate recommendations.

NOTE: This is a required program in the learning pathways for both the Health Coach Professional Certificate and the Patient Navigator Professional Certificate. If you are interested in earning both professional certificates, you only need to take this program once.


Johanne McCarthy, B.A. (Honours), M.A. (Leadership),N.D.

Dr. Johanne McCarthy is from the Onondaga Nation, Beaver clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River territory. She is a proud mother of two young children, and an accomplished Naturopathic Doctor. She maintains her part time clinical practice specializing in Lyme disease and mental health resilience. Dr. McCarthy holds a Master of Organizational Leadership from the school of Management and Economics – University of Guelph where she specialized in Indigenous youth – wellness motivation, mentorship and leadership development. Dr. McCarthy has been an employee of Mohawk College since 2011 and has been seconded to many different departments. She has worked as an Aboriginal Student Counsellor, a Professor in the Practical Nursing with Aboriginal Communities Program, a course designer and Professor for the Canadian Health Care for International Health Professionals Program, an Indigenous Curriculum Specialist, a program designer for the proposed Integrative Holistic Health Studies Program, and most recently, a Teaching and Learning Specialist for Indigenous Education in the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Dr. McCarthy is an active member of Mohawk College’s Research Ethics board and Nursing Education Advisory Committee. She is the chair of the Curriculum development Working Group for McMaster Universities’ Inter-professional Indigenous Health Initiative developing the framework to be implemented to increase Indigenous curriculum and support Indigenous students across the Health Sciences. She is an avid guest speaker who enjoys sharing perspectives and writing articles about topics such as Cultural Competency, Cultural Safety, the Social Determinants of Health, the importance of healthy Therapeutic Relationships, Indigenous and Integrative Holistic Medicine, and Haudenosaunee perspectives on Ecological “Well-Being”. Dr. McCarthy is bravely and compassionately committed to her role as an Onondaga, Beaver clan woman, a “keeper of the central fire”, whose purpose is to inspire collaboration, peace, and unity while modifying the environment for the betterment of future generations. She believes that peace, unity and reconciliation can be accomplished through education and the establishment of meaningful relationships that value the beauty and strength of diversity.

Certificate/Digital Credential

Certificates are issued on completion of all mandatory requirements ( please make sure to review all of them) approximately two weeks after the program.

Please note in order to receive a certificate of completion you must have attended the program dates and/or achieve the learning objectives of your program as determined by the instructor. For more information please review our Program Policies & Disclaimer.

Optional: You also have the opportunity to earn one digital credential  Cultural Safety - Fundamental Skills credential. This program is also part of the learning pathway for the Health Coach Professional Certificate OR the Patient Navigator Professional Certificate.To earn a digital credential you’ll need to pass a short post-program on-line test and pay $20+HST administrative fee. You will receive your digital credential(s) via email upon program completion, with instructions on how to collect and display them.


Schulich Executive Hotel on Campus

The Executive Learning Centre features:
• 60 executive style guest rooms on 12 floors each with a queen size bed
• Complimentary high speed internet access
• In room coffee/tea maker
• Wheelchair accessible

Call reservations at (416)-650-8300, book on-line: or


Funding Sources

Please note that these funding sources below are listed here for your information only. York University or HLLN does not directly provide this funding or apply for grants.

Nursing Education Initiative

Nurses taking this program may be eligible to receive reimbursement of up to $1500 from the Education Initiative offered through the RNAO. You do NOT have to be an RNAO member to apply for the funding. Please visit the RNAO website, Education Funding, for more details

The Allied Health Professional Development Fund

Allied Health professionals taking this Workshop may be eligible to receive reimbursement of up to $1500 from the Allied Health Professional Development Fund offered through HealthForce Ontario. Please visit the HealthForce Ontario website for more details

The Canada-Ontario Job Grant

Through the Canada-Ontario Job Grant you may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in government support per person for training costs.
The Canada-Ontario Job Grant can be used to purchase training for your employees. York University/The Health Leadership & Learning Network is an eligible training provider and the grant can be applied to all of our offerings and for in-house training.
You can apply at any time. Employers can apply for one employee or for a large group of employees
If you are an employee or employer and would like more information visit:

Please note: Not all employers are eligible to apply, please consult the Canada-Ontario Job Grant website for more details.