Most people have a good idea of what compassion looks like. There are numerous theories surrounding the topic on how to be a compassionate person and genuine attempts by many at incorporating aspects of kindness into their daily lives – the act of compassion looks different to everyone. In my Stretch, I was honored to have a front row seat experiencing what compassion looks like in practice at the Indigenous Wellness Clinic (IWC). My name is Pranamika, and this summer I’ve been observing healthcare professionals deliver culturally sensitive care to patients from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) backgrounds.
In observing the team at IWC work together in a flat dynamic with no hierarchy, I was in awe of the interdisciplinary nature of it all. It has been a truly touching experience at the clinic, watching everyone collaborate to meet the needs of patients, while being culturally sensitive to the unique traumas faced by FNMI populations. Having RN’s, dieticians, physiotherapists, physicians, and cultural helpers, all working together to meet the specialized needs of the Indigenous population who visit the clinic through a lens of equality and compassion changed my understanding of what it means to provide competent care based on Indigenous culture. Spirituality, as I have come to understand it, is in seeing the needs of each individual person and valuing their journey with no judgement. In caring for the spiritual needs of others, whether it religious or ritualistic, it is critical to offer help as needed, be open to rejection from those who you are trying to help, and practicing being compassionate through non-judgment. This is something that I think many have a hard time with, especially when traditional morality frowns upon some aspects of harm reductive care. I feel that an important first step to being compassionate in these types of situations is to understand these problems as bigger than one individual and to instead seek greater understanding of the big picture context.