Tansi, ʔédlánet’é, Tanishi,
Friends, Family and Community.
I am writing to you today on behalf of a group of four birthworker aunties in nistawâyâw, the Cree name for Fort McMurray, who will participate in a thirteen-moon journey to Indigenous Birthwork Mentorship, hosted by Nadia Houle of Indigenous Birth of Alberta. We will spend this time with other Indigenous aunties, birthworkers, midwives, and knowledge keepers, learning our traditional ways of being birth support for families in our community through traditional knowledge and ceremony. We will return to our home communities to bring this knowledge into practice and to better supportfamilies through culturally inclusive practices in reproductive health, birth preparation, postpartum care, and parenthood.
Upon completing this 13-month mentorship, our group of nistawâyâw birthworkers will be able to:
- Advocate for women and families as they navigate the health care system;
- Deliver pre- and postnatal community outreach programs that are culturally appropriate and incorporate traditional Indigenous teachings;
- Revitalize traditional Indigenous reproductive practices;
- Create safe birth spaces for Indigenous people and vulnerable populations, in
rural and urban settings, either on- and off-reserve/Métis settlement; and
- Offer support and companionship for families who have to travel from their family, home, and community to give birth to Fort McMurray, away from their family, home, and community to give birth.
This mentorship will create a community of Indigenous people who support each other, learn together, and who will be able to carry knowledge given to them in a way that benefits the health of their community, starting with how babies are brought into this world. Increasing support for Indigenous expectant mothers, families, and communities is one of the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Calls to Action. By providing a mentorship program, Indigenous families will be able to have the support of a sister, aunty, and kohkum (grandmother) while they learn about their culture, reproductive health, pregnancy, postpartum and, most importantly, about themselves. Indigenous birthworkers will enrich families and communities with the knowledge they have gained and support healthy in the best way we know how: through culture.
This traditional ceremony and land-based mentorship is primarily located in Treaty 6 territory, the Edmonton area, as well as online due to COVID-19. Once permitted to gather, we will be required to travel to Treaty 6 territory at least once per month to partake in teachings and ceremony to learn our traditional ways.
While some of us have been able to access some funding for the cost of the program, there will be additional out-of-pocket expenses. These costs will include travelling to ceremonies, cultural teachings and gatherings in Treaty 6, honorarium, tobacco and gifts for our Elders and Knowledge Keepers, camp supplies and/or accommodations, items to help us build our birthing bundle and more.
If you would like to support these future local Indigenous birthkeepers in nistawâyâw,please consider donating to our travel fund in the form of gift cards for fuel or monetary donations. This will help us with the cost of the five-hour drive to Treaty 6 for all necessary gatherings, teachings, and ceremonies, as well as the cost of accommodations and/or camp supplies.
You can also sponsor an aunty. A donation of $2,500 will cover the total amount of the mentorship tuition for a birthworker/aunty who has not been able to access funding. You can also donate an item to our online raffle. We will be organizing an online raffle through Instagram. If you would like to donate an item or gift certificate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
If you are a local community member who would like to further support nistawâyâw birthwork in the future with teachings, or other types of collaboration, please email email@example.com.
Any leftover funds will be used to provide accessible birthwork services to families in our region. That wouldinclude travel expenses, Birthworker fees, meals ect.
This fundraiser is being administered by Sheena Bradley of Omisimâw Wellness. Funds will be shared amongst the four students from nistawâyâw this mentorship program through a joint account. Receipts can be provided for your donation, however, as we are not a charitable organization, it may not result in a tax write off. Please let us know if you’d like a receipt.
We cannot wait to get started on this life-changing journey and to support families in our community. Thank you, Hiy hiy, Marsi, Marsee, from the bottom of our hearts!
Sheena Bradley: Nehiyaw (Cree) Métis, Birthkeeper, Aunty, Traditional Herbalist.
Stephanie Fedirchuk: Dene Carrier Aunty.
Shelby Weiss: Nehiyaw (Cree) Aunty.
Maddie Amyotte: Nehiyaw (Cree) Métis RN, Student Midwife.