Doula Training Canada’s Indigenous Doula Consultant Miranda reflects on the release of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry report and how we as citizens of Canada, and birth professionals can work towards self reflection and change.
The final report of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) National Inquiry was released on June 3. The report, entitled ‘Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’, comes in two volumes and issues 231 ‘Calls for Justice’ as essential next steps to end and redress the colonial violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) people.
You may be wondering where to begin integrating the findings of this report and the Calls for Justice into your daily life. The vast majority of the Calls to Justice are directed toward all levels of government, and those in the media, health and child welfare systems, law enforcement, criminal justice, education, and extractive and development industries. There are also Calls for Justice for all Canadians, which can serve as a framework and starting place for you. They are as follows:
- Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
- Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area. Learn about and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ history, cultures, pride, and diversity, acknowledging the land you live on and its importance to local Indigenous communities, both historically and today.
- Develop knowledge and read the Final Report. Listen to the truths shared, and acknowledge the burden of these human and Indigenous rights violations, and how they impact Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people today.
- Using what you have learned and some of the resources suggested, become a strong ally. Being a strong ally involves more than just tolerance; it means actively working to break down barriers and to support others in every relationship and encounter in which you participate.
- Confront and speak out against racism, sexism, ignorance, homophobia, and transphobia, and teach or encourage others to do the same, wherever it occurs: in your home, in your workplace, or in social settings.
- Protect, support, and promote the safety of women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people by acknowledging and respecting the value of every person and every community, as well as the right of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people to generate their own, self-determined solutions.
- Create time and space for relationships based on respect as human beings, supporting and embracing differences with kindness, love, and respect. Learn about Indigenous principles of relationship specific to those Nations or communities in your local area and work, and put them into practice in all of your relationships with Indigenous Peoples.
- Help hold all governments accountable to act on the Calls for Justice, and to implement them according to the important principles set out in the final report.
There are also Calls of Justice that are applicable to us in our roles as doulas and childbirth educators. The report calls upon governments, health service providers, and child welfare services to:
Recognize that Indigenous Peoples are the experts in caring for and healing themselves, and that health and wellness services are most effective when they are designed and delivered by the Indigenous Peoples they are supposed to serve, in a manner consistent with and grounded in the practices, world views, cultures, languages, and values of the diverse Inuit, Métis, and First Nations communities they serve.
- Provide necessary resources, including funding, to support the revitalization of Indigenous health, wellness, and child and Elder care practices. This includes matriarchal teachings on midwifery and postnatal care for both woman and child.
- Ensure that all persons involved in the provision of health services to Indigenous Peoples receive ongoing training, education, and awareness in areas including, but not limited to: the history of colonialism in the oppression and genocide of Inuit, Métis, and First Nations Peoples; anti-bias and anti-racism; local language and culture; and local health and healing practices.
- End to the practice of targeting and apprehending infants (hospital alerts or birth alerts) from Indigenous mothers right after they give birth.
- Ensure the availability of effective, culturally appropriate, and accessible health and wellness services within each Inuit community. This includes the establishment and funding of birthing centres in each Inuit community, as well as the training of Inuit midwives in both Inuit and contemporary birthing techniques.
These Calls for Justice present us with points for reflection in our practices as doulas and childbirth educators. How do you support Indigenous Peoples as experts in their own health? How can you lend support to revitalization of Indigenous health and wellness practices? Are you pursuing ongoing training and education to expand your understanding of colonization and local Indigenous Peoples, cultures, and practices? I invite all of us to reflect on our practices and examine how we can act on the Calls of Justice above.
We each have the opportunity to be a change agent in our community. We are at the frontline of birth culture and can act as advocates at a systemic level. We can collaborate and strategize to make doula services and childbirth education more accessible to Indigenous Peoples. We can support the training and mentorship of Indigenous doulas and childbirth educators, and build communities of practice around them. We can build working relationships with local Indigenous communities and service agencies. We can connect Indigenous families to Indigenous Patient Liaisons, Cultural Liaisons and Elders in Residence, or advocate for these positions if none exist in your local hospitals. We can build relationships with local health care providers and ask how they are responding to these Calls to Justice.
We have a collective responsibility to consider how our work can disrupt the status quo of societal and institutional violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. I welcome your stories of how you are enacting these Calls for Justice in your work.
Here are some resources to support you further in your learning:
- MMIWG report calls on Canadians to act: Here’s how to make an impact
- ‘It’s torturous’: Young mother joins call from MMWIG advocates to stop apprehensions at birth
- 10 Ways to Be A Genuine Ally to Indigenous Communities
- Ally Bill of Responsibilities
- Missing and Murdered Podcast
- A Decolonization Reading List
- Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence (Free online course)
- Celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21)
- Acknowledge the Land You Live On
Miranda Kelly is Stó:lô from Soowahlie First Nation, living in the unceded, ancestral lands of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh (Vancouver, BC). She is a wife and mother of two. She has worked professionally in Indigenous health in a variety of research, policy and education roles for over a decade. Miranda holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Victoria and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of British Columbia. She is a certified Birth and Postpartum Doula and currently completing certification as a Childbirth Educator. As a member of the ekw’i7tl doula collective, she provides full spectrum doula services to Indigenous families and helps build a community of practice among Indigenous doulas in Vancouver. She is proud to join the amazing team at Doula Canada in the newly created role of Indigenous Doula Consultant. https://www.mirandakelly.com/