Access to midwifery services is a reproductive health right

The return of sustainable and traditional Inuit practices and education programs is one of Pauktuutit’s top priorities.

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Access to midwifery services must be recognized as a primary health and cultural right, and Pauktuutit’s efforts should be met with clear legislative and funding commitments. Inuit-centered and culturally appropriate health models and services must be supported by governments with targeted long-term investments to address meaningful progress toward reconciliation.

Inuit Midwifery: Culturally Safe Care for Maternal, Newborn, and Sexual Health

Inuit communities traditionally relied on local midwives for reproductive health care, emphasizing family- and community-centered birthing practices. However, these services have been replaced by Western medical practices, forcing expectant Inuit mothers to relocate to regional hubs or urban centers for the last month of pregnancy, known as maternal evacuation. This disrupts cultural, physical, and emotional well-being, highlighting a lack of access to culturally safe care and the failure of current legislation to support Inuit maternal and newborn health.

Integrating Inuit midwifery practices into healthcare services provides a sustainable, culturally respectful solution, offering safe, competent care and incorporating traditional knowledge to improve health outcomes and reduce anti-Indigenous racism. It also offers meaningful career opportunities for Inuit women, empowering them to serve, mentor, and protect their communities.

National Inuit Midwifery Forum and Framework

Pauktuutit hosted the inaugural National Inuit Midwifery Forum virtually from March 28-30, 2023, emphasizing the critical need for Inuit midwifery services, education, and training across Inuit Nunangat to enable Inuit to give birth closer to home. In partnership with the National Council of Indigenous Midwives (NCIM), the forum discussed key topics such as current challenges in Inuit maternal and child health, the roles of Inuit midwives in community well-being, and the importance of culturally informed midwifery services.

Based on data collected at the forum, Pauktuutit is developing a National Inuit Midwifery Framework to establish next steps in our goal to re-establish traditional Inuit midwifery practices and education programs in Inuit Nunangat. You can read the full report here:


View the Report Summary

View the Full Report

Inuulitsivik - A model for remote maternity care

In the remote region of Nunavik, Quebec, the integration of traditional knowledge and modern medicine in midwifery has led to a groundbreaking approach to maternal care. Since 1986, Inuit midwives have been working in maternity departments in Puvirnituq, Salluit, and Inukjuak, offering pre-, peri-, and postnatal care within their communities. This model has significantly reduced the need for Inuit women to travel south to give birth, preserving their cultural and familial connections.

The midwives, who are the primary caregivers throughout pregnancy and up to six weeks postpartum, also provide essential health services beyond childbirth, emphasizing prevention and community health. The training program for Inuit midwives, offered by Inuulitsivik Health Centre, focuses on hands-on clinical experience and is recognized by Quebec’s Ministry of Health and international organizations. Today, 92.2% of deliveries in Nunavik occur within the community, with a remarkably low C-section rate of 2.4%, compared to 23% in southern Quebec. Inuulitsivik midwifery is seen nationally and internationally as a model for remote maternity care and Indigenous midwifery.

Irnisuksiijiit – Our Right – Inuit Midwifery videos

Pauktuutit embraced the traditional Inuit story-telling approach to capture the benefits and challenges related to Inuit midwifery services. Irnisuksiijiit – Our Right, the midwifery advocacy video captures the stories of past and present practices of Inuit midwifery services. It also highlights the challenges, gaps, and potential solutions needed to help ensure midwifery tradition is preserved, and midwifery services are available and accessible for future generations of Inuit.

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Pauktuutit’s pregnancy calendar includes traditional Inuit midwifery wisdom alongside medical information to support expecting mothers.