Supporting Aboriginal Midwifery
Supporting Aboriginal Midwifery
The Ryerson Midwifery Education Program is committed to supporting the growth of Aboriginal midwifery in Ontario. The MEP recognizes the important role that Aboriginal midwives have historically played and continue to play to Aboriginal women, families and communities. The Aboriginal Admissions Process and Aboriginal Student Coordinator are two ways the MEP seeks to support the growth of Aboriginal Midwifery in Ontario.
Registered midwives in Ontario are midwives who have completed a university-based midwifery program and have qualified with the College of Midwives of Ontario. Aboriginal midwives may either be Aboriginal Registered Midwives or Aboriginal Midwives working under the exemption clause (see below).
The Ryerson MEP recognizes the role that colonization, assimilation and systemic racism play in the lives of Aboriginal people, and as such has developed the Aboriginal Admissions Process (AAP) to address some of the ways these systemic issues limit access to University based programs. The AAP is designed to make access to the MEP more equitable for Aboriginal students, recognizing the important role that Aboriginal midwives play not only for Aboriginal families and communities but also the greater midwifery community. Applicants, who self-identify as Aboriginal, First Nations, Métis or Inuit can choose to participate in the AAP, see Admissions Page for more information. The AAP is an admissions process aimed to maximize Aboriginal applicants’ opportunities to be accepted into the MEP. It is not a separate stream within the midwifery program.
The Health Professions Act and the Midwifery Act include exemptions for Aboriginal healers and midwives which were established as part of broader self –governance initiatives in Ontario. This provision allows Aboriginal midwives who provide traditional midwifery services within their communities to use the title Aboriginal Midwife. Currently in Canada there are 3 formal community based training programs. Tsi Non:we Ionnakeratstha Ona:grahsta’ Aboriginal Midwifery Training Programme at Six Nations was the first formal training program for Aboriginal Midwives in Ontario. Tsi Non:we Ionnakeratstha Ona:grahsta’ demonstrates how the community sets standards for and oversees the practice of midwifery, ensuring that the community has access to safe midwifery care.
Aboriginal Student Coordinator
Claire Dion Fletcher is an Indigenous (Potawatomi-Lenape) Registered Midwife currently working at Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto. She graduated from the Ryerson MEP in 2013. Claire currently sits on the Core Leadership of the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives, and is co-Chair of the Community Council at the Toronto Birth Centre. Claire is committed to the growth and expansion of Indigenous midwifery on Turtle Island, and believes that an important part of this is supporting students on their way to becoming midwives.
National Aboriginal Council of Midwives
The National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NACM), under the umbrella of the Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM), exists to support professional development for Aboriginal midwives and to promote access to the midwifery model of care in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Currently the three NACM Co-chairs are all Ryerson graduates: Kerry Beebe, Ellen Blais and Evelyn Harney. NACM’s vision is to see Aboriginal midwives working in every Aboriginal community. The Ryerson MEP works towards this vision by supporting Aboriginal students to enter and graduate from the Midwifery Education Program, becoming midwives working in their communities.