Getting to the Heart of Cultural Safety in Unama’ki: Considering Kesultulinej (love).


  • De-Ann Sheppard Cape Breton University



Love as Action, Cultural Safety, Decolonizing Nursing, Indigenous Nursing, Nursing Education


Reflecting upon my early knowledge landscapes, situated within the unceded Mi’kmaq territory of Unama’ki (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia), living the Peace & Friendship Treaty and the teachings of Mi’kmaw Elders, I contemplate the essential relationship with land and language, specifically, Kesultulinej (love as action) and Etuaptmumk (two-eyed seeing) to Cultural Safety. I recognize my position, privilege, and responsibility in teaching and learning about the contextual meanings of Cultural Safety, situated in specific Indigenous terrains and in relation with the land, across time, and relationships. Critical reflection on my story and experiences challenge me to consider why and how Maori nursing theorizations of Cultural Safety have been indoctrinated into the language of national nursing education by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN), Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and most provincial nursing regulatory bodies; this is increasingly relevant as nursing education is progressively shaped by neoliberal and Indigenizing agendas. As I contemplate wrapping Cultural Safety with Kesultulinej, I see the potential to decolonize nursing. Mi’kmaw teachings of Etuaptmumk and Kesultulinej call forth responsibilities to act, and in doing so move us into a space of potential to resist the colonizing forces within nursing. In this moment I realize the interconnected meaning of being amidst these relationships that matter to me as a person and as a nurse; relationships that are marked by love, care and compassion. 


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Author Biography

De-Ann Sheppard, Cape Breton University

De-Ann Sheppard, RN(EC) PHC-NP, MScHQ is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education and Health, Department of Nursing, Cape Breton University. She is also a PhD Student at OISE, University of Toronto in the Adult Education and Community Development program with a specific focus on Collaborative Indigenous Health. 


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How to Cite

Sheppard, D.-A. (2020). Getting to the Heart of Cultural Safety in Unama’ki: Considering Kesultulinej (love). Witness: The Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse, 2(1), 51–65.