Culturally Sensitive Care Aims to Improve Indigenous Maternal and Child Health

Reflections on racism and oppression in midwifery

In a CBC news report ‘We can’t do it alone,’ Julia Whalen informs readers about a recent $2.6 million grant that researchers in Toronto have received. This grant will be used to fund the “Kind Faces Sharing Places: An Action Research Project for Indigenous Families During and After Pregnancy and Birth,” a team-based program aimed at providing better quality healthcare to First Nations populations (Whalen, 2017).

This big win is supported by several partners who hope to reduce infant mortality rates, which are up to four times the national average in First Nation populations, among other things (Whalen, 2017). This unique program is “Indigenous-led, it has community and women’s voices at the heart of it, it is a multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral approach to deal with all the upstream drivers that eventually lead to poor maternal and infant health outcomes,” and will provide better accessibility to culturally secure and safe care (Whalen, 2017). Many different factors affecting accessibility to quality care include lack of housing, access to transportation, and mental health issues. This is why the program aims to create a “spiderweb of support” with partners like the University of Toronto’s Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health, Nishnawbe Homes, and Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto (Whalen, 2017).

The program plans to recruit 100 mothers and their families to take part in a three-year study where they will receive care from a team led by Indigenous midwife, Sara Wolfe (Whalen, 2017). Participants will be connected with mental health care providers, social service agencies, housing transition support, as well as traditional counseling and healing. Treatment for addictions will also be offered. The importance of this program is to provide culturally appropriate care for Indigenous people facing a variety of different issues, at different levels within the community (Whalen, 2017). The program will evaluate the results each year.

Written by Andy Carmichael, Bastyr University Midwifery Student



Whalen, J. (2017, May 25). We can’t do it alone: Indigenous maternal health program aims to address inequality of health care. Retrieved from

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