Throughout 2021, NACM has focused on four priority areas of work.
Expanding Access to Community-Based Indigenous Midwifery Education
In 2020, NACM launched its Indigenous Midwifery Education initiative. Our ultimate goal is to bring Indigenous midwifery education as close to home as possible. To do this, access to community-based education needs to be expanded. Throughout 2021, we have worked to develop an Indigenous-led, community-centered framework for competency-based Indigenous midwifery education. A call for interest was widely circulated and the response was overwhelming. In-person visits by the Traveling Midwife were made to several communities to share key information and requirements of the initiative. Our first group of communities has been identified. NACM started writing a new course – Introduction to Indigenous Midwifery which will be offered to students starting in Spring 2022.
Addressing Anti-Indigenous Racism
Since the death of Joyce Echaquan, the Federal Government has been holding quarterly national meetings with Indigenous partners, provinces, and territories to engage stakeholders in the implementation of actions to address anti-Indigenous racism in the Canadian health care system. NACM has been part of leading these discussions through the First Nations Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) Anti-Racism Advisory Circle alongside the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada, the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association, and National Friendship Centers, Health Excellence Canada, and Indigenous Services Canada. In May, NACM organized and convened a multidisciplinary virtual roundtable on anti-Indigenous racism in primary health education discussing ways to support Indigenous learners in university programs, growing Indigenous-led and community-based primary health education pathways, and strengthening relationships and partnerships to improve Indigenous primary health education. In November, a report from the roundtable will be released that provides policy direction within education and health to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action #23 & #24 toward an Indigenous primary healthcare workforce strategy.
World Patient Safety Day: In September 2021, NACM participated with Health Excellence Canada in a social media campaign on Safe maternal and newborn care. NACM hosted a webinar on the work of Indigenous midwives on patient safety.
Advocacy: Federal Investment in Indigenous Midwifery
In 2017, Canada made a historic first investment of $6M over 5 years towards Indigenous Midwifery. NACM is advocating for significantly higher investment in Indigenous midwifery in 2022. To achieve this, NACM is building a solid base of evidence and information for decision-makers to frame the positive cultural and clinical impacts of Indigenous Midwifery. Key issues include the role of Indigenous midwives in public health, the need to invest in Indigenous midwifery through an Indigenous-led human health resource strategy, recognition of Indigenous midwifery in federal jurisdictions, the protective and healing work of Indigenous midwifery in the context of ongoing violence experienced by Indigenous communities, including forced and coerced sterilization, and missing and murdered Indigenous women.
In Fall 2021, NACM hired a Stakeholder Engagement consultant to help us focus and advance this work.
NACM continues to co-chair the Federal inter-departmental committee on Indigenous Women’s Health and Well-being. NACM and CAM wrote a new statement submitted to the ICM on Partnerships between Indigenous midwives and non-Indigenous midwives: https://www.internationalmidwives.org/assets/files/statement-files/2021/09/ps2021_en_indigenous-and-non-indigenous-midwives.pdf
NACM organized the Equity Symposium Day for the CAM conference entitled: NACM & CAM: Putting anti-Racist Principles into Action to support Indigenous Families. This very successful event hosted 6 sessions with over 104 participants, including two plenary presentations:
- Nanky Rai: Uprooting Medical Violence: Reinvigorating the Radical Roots of Midwifery and Growing Reproductive Justice
- Ronnie Ali: The midwife’s midwife: Breathing life into our relationships
Member and Community Engagement
NACM continues to work alongside communities and Nations involved in the Midwifery Demonstration and Development projects, providing technical expertise, workshops, resource development, and other support. In 2021, NACM published a new Workbook – Restoring Midwifery and Birth to help communities who are starting out on the path of restoring midwifery and birth. It is designed to help communities understand and work with some of the issues that are likely to arise and to provide ideas and space for their own reflections. This workbook was inspired by the many communities and Nations striving to restore Indigenous midwifery and birth.