The Government of Canada contributing $225K to support traditional births in First Nation communities within Atlantic Canada

Press Release

From: Indigenous Services Canada

May 11, 2022

The Government of Canada is taking action to support Indigenous communities in bringing traditional births back home. That is why the Government is announcing support for traditional births in First Nations in Atlantic Canada. As the Government of Canada continues its work in addressing anti-Indigenous racism in health systems, we recognize that expanding support for Indigenous midwifery and doula initiatives is critical in ensuring more culturally responsive and safe services.

Today, Jaime Battiste, Member of Parliament for Sydney—Victoria, on behalf of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced $225,000 to support midwifery projects across multiple communities in Atlantic Canada. Projects – led by Abeqweit First Nation, Natoaganeg, Elsipogtog First Nation, Eskasoni First Nation, the Innu Round Table Secretariat, Woodstock First Nation and Metepenagiag First Nation – will each make important contributions to work focused on the development of first-time legislation and regulations for the profession of Indigenous community-led midwifery services.

ISC is working to expand support for Indigenous midwifery and doula initiatives, as well as strengthening funding for national Indigenous women’s organizations and regional and grassroots organizations. The creation of doula collectives, in collaboration between First Nations communities and provincial midwifery services, will help bring birthing back to the communities in Atlantic Canada, and support engagement in Mi’kmaq communities in the process of finalizing midwifery legislation.

The Government of Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting the creation of culturally safe spaces in the country’s health systems. By continuing to work with Indigenous partners and provincial and territorial governments, having equitable and culturally safe, community-led, community-driven and distinctions-based approaches to health services will be more common in the near future.


“The investments made towards expanding support for Indigenous midwifery and doula initiatives is an important step in broadening access to safe and culturally distinct practices. I commend the leadership we are seeing from communities across the country to make safe health systems a reality, and I’m proud to have supported these initiatives.”

Jamie Battiste
Member of Parliament for Sydney—Victoria

“Midwives play a critical role in the delivery of culturally safe health services. By encouraging more Indigenous people to take on these roles, we will see more culturally inclusive and accessible health services for generations of families to come. These investments are so important as we work to transform health care to be distinctions-based and self-determined, so more First Nations, Inuit and Métis women will have culturally safe options to be able to give birth in their own communities.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services Canada

“The Eskasoni Health Centre was approved for the midwifery funding to hold Indigenous maternal child health sensitivity training for healthcare professionals who provide services to our Indigenous moms. This education session will provide some insight into the loss of culture and tradition through colonization and the impact of residential school systems. It will also provide health care professionals working with our moms with the traditional practices and teachings that were done during pregnancy, birth, as well as the post-partum period. We will then help the attendees learn how they can take this information to provide more culturally safe care. Our hope is that this training will benefit both our moms and the healthcare professionals. Our moms will feel more culturally understood and the professionals more confident in their culturally sensitive practice. We are hoping this will help ease anti-Indigenous racism in health systems.”

Tara Burke, Maternal Child Health Supervisor
Eskasoni Health Centre

“On May 5, 2022, the International Day of the Midwife, the International Confederation of Midwives celebrated its 100th anniversary, representing more than 140 midwives associations in more than 120 countries. Together, these associations represent over one million midwives worldwide! On this day, the Labrador Innu honour the long and significant history of Innu midwives who helped women and their families to give birth on the land and in small communities. The Innu Midwifery Program, launched by the Innu Round Table Secretariat, aims to reintroduce midwifery to Sheshatshiu and Natuashish, drawing on Innu Elders’ knowledge of traditional birthing practices to support the training of Innu midwives using a culturally specific, hands-on, and individually paced learning approach. Restoring midwifery to the Innu communities will result in Innu babies being born into Innu hands on Innu lands, fostering a greater connection to the land and culture, continuation of cultural practices and culturally safe care, and empowering women in the context of their childbearing experience.”

Thea Penashue
Innu Round Table Secretariat, Sheshatshiu, NL

Quick facts

  • Budget 2021 has committed $126.7 million, over three years, to foster health systems where Indigenous Peoples are respected and safe. This anti-Indigenous racism commitment and investment includes a suite of initiatives under four key themes:
    1. Improve access to culturally safe services;
    2. Adapt health systems;
    3. Improve supports and accountability; and
    4. Provide federal leadership.
  • This included $33.3 million to improve access to culturally safe services, with a focus on services for Indigenous women, 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups who may experience intersecting discrimination. This includes expanding support for Indigenous midwifery and doula initiatives and strengthening funding for national Indigenous women’s organizations, as well as regional and grassroots organizations.

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For more information, media may contact:

Alison Murphy
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada


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