An advocate for traditional Inuit and registered midwives currently living in Arctic Bay is hoping the Government of Nunavut will reverse the decision made to suspend birthing services in Kivalliq, as well as helping better support midwives all over the territory.
“I am not too happy with the state of child-birthing services in Nunavut,” said Natsiq Kango.
Birthing services were suspended in Kivalliq due to a shortage of midwives the Department of Health announced back in August.
“When I heard our midwives left their job in Rankin Inlet, I felt so disappointed in our Government of Nunavut,” says Kango.
“This birthing center, and midwifery attendants for the Iqaluit hospital and Cambridge Bay could have been ideal hubs for birthing, if Nunavut’s Government provides full support financially and administratively.”
She also took part in the panel to ensure gender parity among the MLAs with this most recently elected territorial government as well, something she hopes will bring stronger support for midwives and child-birthing services in-territory.
Midwifery has had lukewarm support over recent years in Nunavut.
“Rankin Inlet had a pilot project for five years or so, to prove to Nunavut and abroad on Inuit resiliency in birthing and child-rearing in all of Nunavut,” Kango said, also noting an early 2000s “training program for (Nunavut) Arctic College with a Manitoba model because it was the closest way (to what) Inuit use in birthing.”
Pregnant women are frequently sent out of their home communities and even the territory itself for several weeks at a time to give birth. This separates them from their families, including potential older children and can cause undue stress on mothers and infants.
“Inuit midwifery was very normal in all families for years and years,” Kango said. “A midwife/midwives were more or less the best supporters for (a) woman in labor. Midwives and husbands had attended births for the mother.”
Kango called on government ministers and representatives, as well as Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated to better support these issues.
“Ministers, MLA’s, NTI, get your agenda clear and focus more on social issues that could easily be delivered in communities, with Inuit ways and knowledge on birthing and child-rearing.”