NACM Represents at the UN!

NACM Represents at the UN!

April 22–25, 2019 | UN Headquarters, New York

The Eighteenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

NACM Co‑Chair Carol Couchie and Core Leader Cheryllee Bourgeois participated as part of the Canadian Delegation through Indigenous Services Canada at the 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNFPII).

On April 22, Carol attended a breakfast session honouring Indigenous rights advocate Chief Wilton Littlechild, IPC, as an invited guest of Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown‑Indigenous Relations and His Excellency Mr. Marc‑André Blanchard, the Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations.

Co‑Chair Carol Couchie
Co‑Chair Carol Couchie

On April 23, Cheryllee and Doris, an apprentice midwife from Vilcashuamán, Peru, presented at a side event on preserving the ancestral knowledge of traditional Indigenous midwives: Indigenous midwives are keepers of a wealth of knowledge on sexual and reproductive health!

Doris, an apprentice midwife from Vilcashuamán, Peru, and Cheryllee
Doris, an apprentice midwife from Vilcashuamán, Peru, and Cheryllee

On April 24, Carol presented as part of a panel on Traditional Knowledge: Generation, Transmission and Protection.

This side‑event was organized by the Trilateral Working Group (Mexico, United States and Canada) and explored the role of Indigenous midwives in improving maternal health for Indigenous women, particularly for women in rural Indigenous communities and their role in transmitting and protecting traditional practices. The event also touched on broader maternal health practices in the context of eradicating violence through connection to culture.

Core Leader Cheryllee Bourgeois speaking at the UN
Core Leader Cheryllee Bourgeois

On April 25, Cheryllee spoke during the hearing with Indigenous Peoples:

“The criminalization of Indigenous midwifery is just one way of perpetrating violence against Indigenous women.”

Invest in the growth and sustainability of Indigenous midwifery!

Invest in the growth and sustainability of Indigenous midwifery!

March 28, 2019

As Canada prepares to host the Women Deliver Conference, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, the Canadian Association of Midwives, the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives, and Oxfam Canada have partnered to develop the three proposals below to drive progress on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada.

We are therefore seeking organizational endorsements for this trilogy of proposals

To endorse, COMPLETE THIS ONLINE FORM or write to, with the name of your organization and your logo.

1. Invest in the growth and sustainability of Indigenous midwifery and therefore, to the return of birth to Indigenous communities across Canada. >>>

This is an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate to the world its response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, compliance to the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and commitment to improve the quality of health services delivered to First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Peoples and to ensuring Indigenous Peoples have control over their health services and programs. Bringing birth back to a community has enormous cultural significance and positive effects in all areas of community health, including for women and their babies.

2. Campaigns on Universal Contraception Coverage and the National Sexual‑Ed Initiative >>>

Commit to universal cost coverage for contraceptives for all as part of a call for a national public drug plan that is universal, public and single‑payer, comprehensive safe and effective, accessible and affordable.

3. Develop a national initiative to show support for equal access to high quality sex‑ed, raise public awareness, and build capacity on the positive impact on individual health, public health and gender equality. >>>

This would inform the public of the crucial role sex‑ed plays in advancing gender equality, preventing gender‑based violence, preventing bullying, promoting health, and empowering youth.

Leadership Meeting

Leadership Meeting

January 29, 2019

NACM’s Core Leadership met at Tsi Non:we Ionnakeratstha One:grahsta’ in Ohsweken, ON, Six Nations, on January 28 and 29, 2019.

A warm welcome to new members of the Leadership team this year, including Brenda Epoo (Inukjuak), Alisha Julien Reid (Fredericton), Hope McLennan (Alberta) and new Student Representative, Doriesha Watson-States (studying in Toronto, but from the Atlantic Region).

Government Relations

Government Relations

December 17, 2018

December Ottawa Tour

CAM (represented by Tonia Occhionero and Nathalie Pambrun) and NACM (represented by Carol Couchie, Ellen Blais and Alisha Nicole Apale) met with senior staff to advance our government relations work.

We met with policy directors from the offices of the Status of Women Canada, Indigenous Services Canada and Health Canada.

Tonia Occhionero, Ellen Blais, Nathalie Pambrun, Carol Couchie and Alisha Nicole Apale in the lobby at the Status of Women Canada in Ottawa
Tonia Occhionero, Ellen Blais, Nathalie Pambrun, Carol Couchie and Alisha Nicole Apale in the lobby at the Status of Women Canada in Ottawa

Nathalie Pambrun is appointed CAM President

Nathalie Pambrun is appointed CAM President

November 28, 2018

We are pleased to announce the appointment of NACM member Nathalie Pambrun as the new President of the Canadian Association of Midwives/Association canadienne des sages‑femmes (CAM/ACSF).

Nathalie will serve as the CAM President from November 2018 to November 2020, after having been a member of the CAM Board of Directors for over seven years. She is CAM’s first Indigenous midwife to serve as President of the organization.

Nathalie Pambrun is a Franco‑Manitoban Métis midwife who has practiced in urban, rural and remote communities across Canada and internationally. Bridging environmental and reproductive justice movements at the community level, she embraces a human rights approach that effectively respects the coming generations. She is committed to midwifery care that is accessible, equitable, and culturally safe.

Nathalie has also been a member of the Core Leadership of the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives since its inception, and has served a two‑year term as the organization’s Co‑Chair from 2011 to 2012.

Message from Claire Dion Fletcher

Message from Claire Dion Fletcher

November 15, 2018

I am honoured to be starting in the role of NACM Co‑Chair, alongside Carol Couchie.

I have been on the NACM core leadership since 2014 and have learned a lot working with the team, seeing and contributing to the hard work that all our members do to advance Indigenous Midwifery and the health of our families and communities. I am looking forward to further supporting and facilitating this work as a NACM Co‑Chair.

I graduated from the Midwifery Education Program at Ryerson University in 2013, and I recently completed my M.A. in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies at York University. My research focus was on Indigenous midwifery and decolonizing health care.

Currently, I work at Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto, I am also a contract lecturer and the Aboriginal Student Coordinator at the Ryerson MEP. I am committed to the strengthening and growth of Indigenous Midwifery and have a particular interest in midwifery education, both community and university based.

It has been a pleasure to work with Melissa Brown as the Co‑Chair of NACM over the last two years, and I say anushiik for all her contributions to NACM.

There are so many opportunities for NACM coming up, I appreciate this role and the attendant responsibilities. I will do my best to serve the community well during my time as Co‑Chair.

— Claire Dion Fletcher

Bringing Birth Home Project Finishes

Bringing Birth Home Project Finishes

September 25, 2018

Our Bringing Home Birth Project ended in June, having opened the doors to future growth of Indigenous midwifery in Canada. NACM’s Co‑Chairs are satisfied that the project took meaningful steps towards restoring birth to Indigenous communities.

“We were able to visit more communities than had been originally envisioned by the project and made some good connections in those communities. We appreciate the hard work of Community Programs Lead, Evelyn George, who did an excellent job of positioning NACM as the voice of Indigenous midwifery in Canada.”

— Melissa Brown, Co‑Chair

Few Indigenous families in Canada have access to culturally safe midwifery care near their home communities. Transforming the experience of birth is central to intergenerational healing for Indigenous families. The project was designed to address the lack of access to Indigenous midwives.

Throughout the one-year project, 12 Indigenous midwives and Indigenous student midwives visited a total of 10 communities to deliver health education workshops, advocacy meetings or both. Another 12 Indigenous midwives and other health professionals developed and delivered 8 webinars on topics that were attended by a total of 95 persons. Fifteen midwives participated in a pilot mentorship program.

The project also enabled NACM to host a feast for 83 local and visiting Indigenous midwives during the ICM Congress in June 2017, and allowed us to meet with the federal ministries of Health and Indigenous Services, national Aboriginal Organizations, educational organizations and provincial and territorial midwifery associations.

Bringing Birth Home was funded by Save the Children Canada (SCC) and represented the second year of an ongoing partnership between SCC and NACM.

Carol Couchie gives workshop on reproductive health to teenagers in Natuashish, NL.
Carol Couchie gives workshop on reproductive health to teenagers in Natuashish, NL

NACM embarks on Core Competencies Project

NACM embarks on Core Competencies Project

July 30, 2018

NACM’s vision for education is that where there are services there will be education. This vision inspired NACM to begin to articulate the core competencies of Indigenous midwifery, as a key component in NACM’s aim to increase the pathways to education, decolonize training experiences, remove funding barriers to midwifery practice, and support retention.

This framework will serve as a national occupational standard to support further development of critical human resources, educational resources and career planning tools. The Core Competencies Project is being undertaken in partnership with Save the Children Canada (SCC) and is funded with support from Johnson & Johnson.

In July 2018 NACM started a consultation process with Indigenous midwives to identify key competencies for the development of a National Indigenous Midwifery Competency Framework. Following this, NACM conducted a national Indigenous midwifery occupational survey. Through this survey, NACM aims to understand the size and profile of the Indigenous midwifery sector, expected attrition and anticipated changes in the employment patterns in order to meet the needs of the Indigenous community.

Following the survey, a group of NACM members from across the country came together in Toronto for a core competencies workshop. Indigenous midwives present at the workshop represented different geographic regions, registered and exemption midwives, First Nations, Inuit and Metis midwives, and different levels of experience. Facilitated by the Competencies Group, the midwives spent two days mapping out the unique roles of Indigenous midwives and the aspects of care that we provide. Together the midwives developed a set of core competencies for Indigenous midwifery in Canada. The next step of this project will be to have these core competencies reviewed by the wider NACM membership, with the end goal of a set of core competencies of Indigenous midwives developed and validated by Indigenous midwives.

Finally, NACM is undertaking a public engagement strategy with government, midwifery associations, and midwifery education programs and stakeholders in Canada. The work on this project will continue until June 2019. NACM member Cheryllee Bourgeois is working as the Project Lead to support the development of the Framework and NACM member Evelyn George is working as the Partnership Development Coordinator to support the public engagement strategy, supported by the NACM SCC committee.

Core Competencies Workshop, Toronto, July 2018
Core Competencies Workshop, Toronto, July 2018
Inuit Elder midwife Leah Qinuajuak with Métis midwife Nathalie Pambrun in Toronto for Core Competencies Workshop, July 2018
Inuit Elder midwife Leah Qinuajuak with Métis midwife Nathalie Pambrun in Toronto for Core Competencies Workshop, July 2018
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