MPP Deb Matthews was at the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) today to announce that two new Aboriginal Midwives will be hired to provide culturally appropriate primary health care to pregnant Indigenous community members, babies and their families. Midwifery services at SOAHAC will be rolling out later this year from SOAHAC sites in Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and London.
The Aboriginal midwives at SOAHAC will both support and be supported by our existing interdisciplinary team which includes doctors and nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, traditional Indigenous healers/Elders, mental health therapists, social workers and more. The midwives will complete Indigenous Cultural Safety training and receive a comprehensive orientation to SOAHAC’s wholistic, integrated model of care.
This exciting announcement has been long-awaited by Aboriginal midwives and communities across Ontario. The National Aboriginal Council of Midwives and the Association of Ontario Midwives, with the support of Aboriginal midwives, AHACs and other allies, have advocated over many years for funding to make Aboriginal Midwifery accessible to Indigenous families across Ontario. To develop a provincial Aboriginal Midwifery program, the province consulted with these groups, and other Indigenous, midwifery and primary health care organizations before issuing a call for applications last year. In addition to the midwifery program at SOAHAC, the government is supporting the establishment of four Aboriginal Midwifery programs across the province in Powassan, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Akwesasne, and Sudbury.
Aboriginal midwives play a critical, restorative and deep healing role in their communities. In addition to their important role as a primary health care provider, they are trained to provide or support traditional teachings and ceremonies, including birthing, breastfeeding, parenting and postnatal support that incorporate traditional values.
SOAHAC looks forward to providing further information about the new services as it becomes available.