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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

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 Indigenous people, and as such has developed the indigenous Admissions Process (IAP) to address some of the ways these systemic issues limit access to University based programs. The IAP is designed to make access to the MEP more equitable for Indigenous students, recognizing the important role that Aboriginal midwives play not only for indigenous families and communities but also for the greater midwifery community.  Applicants, who self-identify as Indigenous, First Nations, Métis or Inuit can choose to participate in the IAP,  see Admissions Page for more information. The IAP is an admissions process aimed to maximize Indigenous applicants’ opportunities to be accepted into the MEP. It is not a separate stream within the midwifery program.

Aboriginal Midwives

The Health Professions Act and the Midwifery Act include exemptions for Indigenous or Traditional 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, external link.

Indigenous Student Coordinator

Since 2015, Ryerson midwifery has received special funding to support an Indigenous Student Coordinator. This role was founded by Cheryllee Bourgeois. Claire Dion Fletcher had held this position until 2019. Currently, the Indigenous  Student Coordinator is Denise Booth Mcleod.

Denise Booth Mcleod, Ojibway from Sagamok Anishnawbek F.N which is located in the North Shore of Lake Huron. Denise’s career started working grassroots and direct service in Toronto’s Indigenous community specifically focusing on Gender Based Violence. Presently, Denise works at the Toronto Birth Centre as the Indigenous and Community Engagement Coordinator and is a founding member of Ode’miin Giizis Full Spectrum Doula Collective.  She is passionate about supporting Midwives and Birth Workers, and focusing on supporting Indigenous communities to return to traditional birthing practices. 

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, external link and to promote access to the midwifery model of care in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.  NACM Co-chairs are Carol Couchie and Clair Dion Fletcher.  NACM’s vision is to see Aboriginal midwives working in every Indigenous community. The Ryerson MEP works towards this vision by supporting Indigenous students to enter and graduate from the Midwifery Education Program, becoming midwives working in their communities.