Midwives fundraiser – supporting birthing choices in Mittimatalik

On January 18th, 2022, Justice for Indigenous Women (J4IW) held a successful fundraiser to raise awareness and to support the Inuit midwives of Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Nunavut!

J4IW is proud to announce that due to the generosity and interest of many supporters, we raised $20 000 for the midwives! The Inuit midwifery team, led by Elder, community midwife, and teacher Regilee Ootoovik, is excited to use the funds to educate future midwives and collaborate with other communities in Nunavut.

With over 80 active participants tuning in, the conversations with local midwife Regilee Ootoova, Mittimatalik Early Years (Inunnguiniq project), Program manager Dina Arreak, and Jeeteeta Merkosak, the director of Pirurvik Preschool, were the highlight of the evening’s program. Tessa Lochhead, co-founder of Pirurvik Preschool, tuned in from Iqaluit and provided context for how the Early Years program will dovetail with the traditional midwifery project.

Participants were able to learn, first hand, what Inuit women have to go through in preparing for child-birth. Ootoova explained how traditional midwifery ways have been undermined in order to prioritize Western birthing methods, and how the marginalization of traditional Inuit midwifery knowledge has led to displacement of “to be mothers” to southern hospitals resulting in increased anxiety and hardship on families at a time when they need local support the most.

A documentary on Pirurvik Preschool in Mittimatalik called, “Building the Heart of the Child” was also enjoyed. Pirurvik is an innovative Inuktitut Preschool Program that blends Montessori methods with Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit ways) and Inungnuinniq (traditional Inuit child-rearing). Once women in Mittimatalik have options to birth their babies in their community, both Inungnuinniq and Qaujimajatuqangit will be restored.

Social justice actions and additional educational resources were provided by J4IW for supporters who wished to put what they learned into action.

More learning about the evening’s event can be viewed here at https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/pond-inlet-project-promotes-traditional-inuit-midwifery/

(photo Lynda Panipak and her daughter Tira Panipak by Jamie Griffiths/Chickweed Arts)