Skip to content

Ask Catherine 1 — Culture Sensitivity and the Unseen


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): The Good Men Project

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/02/18

Catherine Broomfield is the Executive Director of iHuman Youth Society. She loves the challenge and excitement of the job, especially with the diversity of the workplace and the people with non-profits. She has worked, in fact, in both the public and the private sectors. Here we open with iHuman Youth Society, cultural sensitivity, and the unseen populations of Canada.

The interview opened on the work through iHuman Youth Society by Broomfield. She remarked on the Executive Director position with the standard leadership and administrative tasks that come with the station.

She also commented on the budget monitoring and forecasting, the grant writing, and the strategic planning as well. It amounts to the standard set of tasks for an executive director. But not so normal, her role requires another set of specific tasks, too.

“Atypically, but normal for a smaller organization, I also do front-line work with the youth such as responding to crises and critical incidents within our building or connecting with them about opportunities they want to pursue and seeing how iHuman can support those ideas. I’ve also been known to clean toilets, shovel snow. Basically whatever might need doing to support the agency I’m at the ready,” Broomfield stated.

When I asked about the need to build cultural sensitivity into the work with a diverse group of young people who need help, she noted that this was, indeed, an important question while also making a distinction between cultural sensitivity and cultural safety.

Where the former is sometimes used and the latter is intended or necessary, cultural sensitivity being the awareness of the interaction with others in a cultural context. The cultural safety being something of a recognition of a positionality in relation to others and then working to create a space for safe and healthy communication.

“Inherently then, you can appreciate that trauma awareness is embedded in practice that is cultural safe. I believe the term evolved from nursing practice in New Zealand and has been recognized for its value especially as it relates to working with Indigenous peoples and others who have experienced systemic trauma,” Broomfield explained, “Therefore, cultural safety, is a key element of the relational approach iHuman takes when we work with marginalized and traumatized young people. Our youth practice, then, involves creating safe and trusting interactions that build into relationships where the young person can describe the barriers they face, express what they need, and how they’d like that support provided.”

Those approaches with a young person help them feel valued and witnessed, where the ultimate goal is an improvement in the young person feeling a sense of belonging, identity, self-worth, and sense of purpose.

Broomfield continued to describe the subpopulations of those who are, in essence, the commonly unseen members of the general population, by definition as they do not fit within the normalized structure of the society.

Broomfield stated, “For people who experience erasure, I would suggest this is a profoundly fundamental question about equity, justice and privilege. For myself, I believe this discrimination stems from human societies tend to privilege one class of people above others. It’s a way to distribute abundance and resources to those deemed worthy of these means and control and withhold the same from those identified as the ‘nots’. Why this is the case is truly beyond my understanding.”

She concluded stating that iHuman Youth Society is built around the building of relationships with young people that they value. It is honoring what is built there and helping include those who have been feeling excluded, through the provision of a sense of community.

Human Rights
Wednesdays 7 pm EST / 4 pm PST
Call-In Details: (701) 801-1220
Meeting ID: 934-317-242
Lead Page:
Led by: Scott Douglas Jacobsen


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: