Dental Hygienist Cultural Safety

Quality Assurance Project Update

BCCOHP is working to establish a modernized quality assurance program for all oral health professionals. This is a key initiative and is expected to be a multi-year project.

The quality assurance programs developed by the legacy colleges that came together to form BCCOHP remained in place upon amalgamation and are currently under review. These will remain in force until a new quality assurance program is developed.

Stay informed about the progress here >>

Mother Earth’s Song

On May 24, 2019 the then-CDHBC Board and staff were honoured to unveil an art installation, Mother Earth’s Song, by Lekwungen artist, Darlene Gait, in the Victoria office which is located on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen speaking peoples, the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. This art installation represents BCCOHP’s vision for cultural safety and humility in healthcare regulation represented in the modernist and traditional artistic elements of the West Coast Salish First Peoples. The West Coast Salish woman wearing a traditional dog and goat hair blanket represents the BCCOHP’s authority to regulate dental hygiene in BC for the protection of the public, looking on confidently with a proactive vision for the future. The wolf represents aspects of protection, communication, and acts as a symbol of the people of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. The mist in the form of salmon escaping the wolf’s howl represent the West Coast Salish peoples and the BCCOHP’s constant renewal of operational effectiveness. The moon represents the night-time guardian of humans which is parallel to BCCOHP’s role as a regulator mandated to protect the public. The background is an image of the coastline along Dallas Road in Victoria, BC, at sunset.

“As regulated health care professionals, dental hygienists follow a Code of Ethics which states that clients are to be treated with respect for their individual values and needs. Having dental hygienists join many other health care professionals in completing cultural safety training is part of fulfilling the College’s mandate of ensuring the public’s access to safe and competent dental hygiene care”.

    –  Jennifer Lawrence, then-Registrar of the former CDHBC.

To learn more about how you can incorporate cultural safety into the process of dental hygiene care, please review the following Interpretation Guidelines

      – Cultural Safety and Humility
      – Duty to Provide Care
      – Consent of Minors to Treatment
      – Referrals by Dental Hygienists

All registered dental hygienists in BC, regardless of primary practice setting, are encouraged to complete the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) training delivered by the Provincial Health Services Authority. Completion of this training is worth up to 10 credits towards QAP requirements and helps ensure dental hygiene services are provided in compliance with the Code of Ethics. When dental hygienists increase their knowledge of cultural safety and humility, this in part helps to ensure that all British Columbians, including Indigenous peoples in BC, can access safe and ethical dental hygiene services free from bias and discrimination.

To learn more about the course and register as a participant, please click here.

The First Nations Health Authority has produced a video regarding cultural safety in oral health care that all dental professionals should see and reflect upon. To view My dad’s unbelievable story, untold by him, please click here.

BCCOHP is also pleased to share its Cultural Safety Initiatives Status Report 2020.


**VIEWING NOTE** The materials on this page touch on potentially distressing subject matter. It is recommended that you review it in a safe, quiet space and allow time for reflection afterwards.

Please watch this three-minute video with Roy Henry Vickers, First Nations Artist, Author, Storyteller, holder of the Order of BC and the Order of Canada. This powerful video shares Roy’s personal story of the dental abuse he experienced as a child and provides a powerful example to inspire oral health professionals to commit to Indigenous Anti-Racism, Cultural Safety and Humility (IARCS&H) learning to collectively create a new era of anti-racist, trauma-informed oral health services for Indigenous peoples.

Introducing A New Dawn – A visual representation of this learning journey

In 2022, the College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia was honoured to present A New Dawn, created by Roy Henry Vickers. Roy’s father was a fisherman of three northwest coast First Nations ancestries: Tsimshian, Haida, Heiltsuk. Roy’s mother was a schoolteacher whose parents had immigrated to Canada from England. BCCOHP is grateful to have worked in collaboration with Roy to create A New Dawn, which tells the story of IARCS&H education for regulated oral health care professionals in what is now commonly called British Columbia. Each element of the artwork carries significant meaning, which Roy explains in a three-minute video, different from the one above.

Your Lhéq’lomet​ Toolkit
BCCOHP is providing a toolkit to support engaging in meaningful and relevant Indigenous Anti-Racism, Cultural Safety and Humility (IARCS&H) learnings as part of regular professional development. As part of this learning journey, dental hygienists are encouraged to complete a minimum of four Continuing Competency (CC) credits in IARCS&H learning per five-year QAP cycle. Please take the time to read the entire toolkit in a thoughtful way.

This toolkit has been thoughtfully designed in consultation with experts including a subject matter expert with lived Indigenous experience. Dental hygienists are strongly encouraged to use the tools within this toolkit document to reflect on gaps in IARCS&H knowledge, explore recommended opportunities for learning and development, and develop a plan to complete at least four CC credits of IARCS&H learning per five-year QAP cycle.

A self-reflection guide (found on page 13 of the toolkit) has been created as part of the Indigenous Anti-Racism, Cultural Safety & Humility Education Project so registrants can reflect on their learning so far and identify gaps in their knowledge.

Continuing Competency (CC) credits
IARCS&H learning earns registrants Continuing Competency (CC) credits. Completion of the following activities together as a set bundle is eligible for at least one CC credit for IARCS&H learning, with credit given hour-for-hour:

  • Watch the three-minute video featuring Roy Henry Vickers
  • Complete the Self-Reflection Learning and Development Guide on page 13 in the toolkit
  • Review the list of examples of recognized IARCS&H learning experiences including Indigenous learning experiences on pages 18 – 20 of the toolkit
  • Review the guidance for selecting meaningful and appropriate IARCS&H learning experiences on pages 17 of the toolkit
  • Develop a plan for a relevant and meaningful IARCS&H learning and development journey, as outlined on page 14 of the toolkit

By watching the video and completing the self-reflection guide, oral health professionals begin to learn about the history of Indigenous dental abuse, trauma, and racism in oral health services. They can begin to assess gaps in knowledge and develop a process of meaningful self-reflection and professional development planning.

More About the Lhéq’lomet​ Education Project
The College’s new Lhéq’lomet Education Project has been created to enhance culturally safe care for Indigenous clients. The project provides learning opportunities for registrants about the harm Indigenous peoples in Canada have suffered in the past, including medical and dental abuse, as well as the ongoing harm, racism, and discrimination they experience in BC’s healthcare system today.

This education project honours our 2017 Declaration of Commitment – Cultural Safety and Humility in the Regulation of Health Professionals Serving First Nations and Aboriginal People in British Columbia. It also honours our commitment to “provide resources to registrants to improve ICSH in their practice” in the Joint Statement of Apology and Commitments to Action that the former College of Dental Hygienists of BC signed in July 2021.

Support Resources During This Journey
Content in Indigenous Anti-Racism, Cultural Safety and Humility learning experiences will often include information about the violent colonization of Indigenous peoples and the lands now commonly called Canada. Topics can include residential schools and their impacts on oral health and other sensitive topics. If you or anyone you know needs support, consider reaching out to:

  • National Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
  • Mental Health and Wellness Support for Indigenous Peoples Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Program: 1-866-925-4419
  • KUU-US Crisis Line Society (British Columbia): 1-800-588-8717
  • Canadian Centre for Mental Health and Sport for mental health resources: https;//

On July 27, 2021, registrars from 11 Health Regulatory Colleges in B.C., gathered with an Indigenous leader, knowledge carrier and witnesses for an intimate ceremony to sign a Joint Statement of Apology and Commitments to Action at Spanish Banks in Vancouver on the unceded, ancestral, traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

Read the full Joint Statement of Apology and Commitments to Action.

View a one-minute video of the ceremony.

The BCHR Cultural Safety Task Force in collaboration with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), released their report entitled Three years in: a report on the achievements since signing the Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility. Please click here to read it.

Since July 1, 2016, private dental hygiene practitioners in British Columbia have had the option to be recognized as Service Providers by the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and have been able to direct bill through FNHA’s First Nations Health Benefits program. This program was previously administered in partnership with Health Canada’s Non-Insured Health Benefits program but has been administered for FNHA by Pacific Blue Cross since 2019.

In order to be a Service Provider under the First Nations Health Benefits program, private dental hygiene practitioners in BC must enroll in and complete the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) Core Health Training program delivered by the Provincial Health Services Authority.

Upon successful completion of the San’yas ICS Core Health Training program, the BC private dental hygiene practitioner must input this learning activity within their individual Online Learning Plan and upload their certificate of completion. This not only tracks those who have completed the course but will also track the 8-10 continuing competency credits allowed for the completion of the training within one’s Quality Assurance Program cycle.

FNHA will contact the College for confirmation that a dental hygienist is a registrant in good standing and has completed the San’yas ICS Core Health Training. FNHA will not accept any claims that cannot be verified through confirmation by the College. Therefore, it is important for private dental hygiene practitioners to record completion of the training program if they intend to become a FNHB Service Provider.

On November 30, 2020, former judge and Representative for Children and Youth in BC, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond concluded their investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in the BC health care sector and released their final report with the Ministry of Health of British Columbia: In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-Specific Racism and Discrimination in BC Health CareThis in-depth report details the many systems of colonialism working to create environments of racism and discrimination resulting in unsafe health care services for Indigenous peoples in BC.

BCCOHP is one of the health profession regulators in BC who have pledged a commitment to making the BC health care system culturally safe for Indigenous peoples as outlined in a Joint Statement of Apology and Commitments to Action signed in July 2021. As part of meeting this commitment, the College endeavours to gather information to better understand its registrants’ demographics.

To assist BCCOHP in gathering this information, registrants will have the option of answering a few questions on their registration renewal application starting in 2022. Dental hygienists will have the option to self-identify as Indigenous and also indicate whether they would be interested in being contacted by the College about opportunities to provide perspectives on regulatory issues. Answering these questions is optional and will not affect the outcome of the renewal application in any way.

Anonymized information gathered from registrants’ answers to these questions may be shared in aggregate form with stakeholders such as the First Nations Health Authority, the Ministry of Health, universities, associations, and others to inform program development and initiatives. BCCOHP may also use this information to review its processes and programs to better meet the unique needs of Indigenous peoples, including dental hygienists who identify as Indigenous.