OTTAWA, May 5, 2022 – Today, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada recognizes International Day of the Midwife by launching “Irnisuksiijiit – Our Right“ an Inuit midwifery advocacy video.  

Pauktuutit embraced the traditional Inuit story-telling approach to capture the benefits and needs, as well as the challenges and barriers, related to Inuit midwifery services. Irnisuksiijiit – Our Right, captures the voices and stories of past and present Inuit midwifery practices from Inuit midwives. Their stories highlight the changes needed to ensure traditional Inuit midwifery is preserved and Inuit midwifery services are available and accessible for future generations of Inuit.

Currently, Inuit women’s sexual and reproductive health is compromised by regulatory limitations that are neither trauma-informed nor culturally appropriate to Inuit.

In 2022, only three of 51 communities throughout Inuit Nunangat offer birthing services. Inuit midwifery traditions and practices are being disregarded. As a result, Inuit women are left with no choice but to leave their respective communities and families to have their newborns. This practice has medicalized the natural process of childbirth. Consistent with the legacy of government-forced separation of Inuit from their families and communities, this strips Inuit of their cultural identity, values, and language.

“The lack of midwifery services to Inuit women is an infringement and violation of their sexual and reproductive health rights. The government is obligated to respect, protect, and fulfill these rights,” said President Gerri Sharpe.

“The return of Inuit midwifery services and education programs to Inuit communities will help bridge the gap in the disproportionate sexual and reproductive health outcomes. The return of Inuit midwifery services will reduce the anti-Indigenous racism that many Inuit women experience in Canada’s health care systems,” continued President Sharpe. 

For Inuit, childbirth is a celebration of life grounded in cultural values and reflective of Inuit tradition.  To ensure the return of sustainable Inuit midwifery services and education programs to communities throughout Inuit Nunangat, Pauktuutit is calling for: 

  • Funding support for a national Inuit midwifery forum to develop and implement a National Framework on Inuit Midwifery and conceptualize a strategic path toward
    re-establishing midwifery services, education, and certification programs in each of the four Inuit regions.
  • The establishment of a trilateral partnership between Pauktuutit, Indigenous Services Canada and First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, and the departments of health in the provinces of Quebec, Newfoundland, and Labrador as well as the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to integrate midwifery services into the health care delivery.
  • The establishment of midwifery training programs in Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, and Northwest Territories modelled after the Nunavik Midwifery Training and Certificate program, as well as the expansion of the existing training programs in Nunavik.
  • A sustainable federal bursary for Inuit to enroll in midwifery education programs as well as academic support to deliver these programs.
  • Midwifery to be acknowledged and adopted as a tool to combat anti-Indigenous racism in Canada’s health care system.

The return of sustainable Inuit midwifery services and education programs to communities throughout Inuit Nunangat remains one of Pauktuutit’s top priorities.

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Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada is the national non-profit organization representing all Inuit women in Canada.  Its mandate is to foster a greater awareness of the needs of Inuit women and to encourage their participation in community, regional and national concerns relating to social, cultural, and economic development.

For more information contact: Amanda Deseure, 613.806.3336