Reclaiming Childbirth: The Inuulitsivik Aboriginal Midwifery Program

Patrick Bidulka, Rosemary Chuang, Ramla Barise, Min Gi Cho, Kedar Mate

Abstract:Reclaiming Childbirth

The Inuulitsivik Midwifery Program was created in response to the inefficient evacuation policy implemented by the Government of Canada in the 1950s. Under this evacuation program, pregnant women from the Nunavik region would be sent to deliver in southern Canadian hospitals, in an effort to decrease the high perinatal mortality rate in this region. Maternal and child health disparities persisted, with Inuit women and their babies continuing to suffer worse health outcomes than the rest of the Canadian population. The Inuulitsivik Midwifery Program, implemented in 1986, is designed to bring birth back to the isolated Nunavik communities. The program is currently based in three main birthing centres located in Puvirnituq, Inukjuak, and Salluit, Quebec. Implementation of the program saw a major decrease in the evacuation of pregnant Inuit women to southern hospitals in Canada. The program is correlated with a decrease in perinatal mortality rates, and increased patient satisfaction. Canada’s brutal history of residential schools and attempts at a “cultural genocide” of Indigenous peoples (encompassing First Nations, Metis, and Inuit) have resulted in vast economic and health disparities that are rooted in a multitude of factors. For this case study, the focus will be on Inuit communities in Northern Quebec. A critical evaluation of the Inuulitsivik Midwifery Program, a community-based initiative in response to the Evacuation Policy of the 1970s, will be conducted, followed by concluding recommendations. It is believed that midwifery programs may act as a potential solution to address several relevant Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the United Nations: good health and well-being, reduced inequalities, and sustainable cities and communities (2). This case study examines the impact of culturally sensitive interventions in assisting Canada’s most marginalized population.


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