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Midwifery Education Program

ᐄᔨᔨᐅᔨᒧᐎᓐ | IIYIYIUYIMUWIN Learn about midwives and midwifery in Eeyou Istchee

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The Cree Health Board is developing an education program to train Eeyou/Eenou’ch midwives.

The training will be consistent with the standards of university programs in the South but adapted for a remote, Northern and Eeyou/Eenou’ch setting. The first cohort will likely start in spring, 2023. 

This program is: 

  • A mix of old and new. Learned skills will be a blend of modern, medical skills and traditional and cultural skills. 
  • On-territory. The program will start in Chisasibi then expand to Waskaganish and Mistissini. People can apply from across the region. There will probably be some placements in the South. 
  • Community-driven. An Advisory Group made up of community representatives oversee the program. Community members are consulted at every step.  
  • Competency-based. Most of the learning is hands-on, starting day one. Mentors will be mostly midwives. Indigenous midwives from across Canada will visit to teach. 
  • The Canadian Midwifery Regulatory Council, the Ordre des Sages-femmes du Québec and the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives outline the competencies midwives must achieve. Once students achieve all the competencies, they will be eligible for a provincial license from the Ordre des Sages-femmes du Québec and can work anywhere in the province. 
  • Laddered. Students will work at their own pace and achieve competencies in different orders. It will take four to six years to complete the program and by graduation, everyone will have attended about 100 births.
  • Integrates waapimausuun. Training will stem from Eeyou/Eenou’ch traditional and cultural knowledge and practices. Elders and knowledge keepers will mentor students. 
  • Accessible. Students will be hired as Cree Health Board employees with part-time scheduled overtime and on-call hours, premiums, holidays and benefits. Once someone finishes the program, their position will automatically re-classify to a Midwife position. 

How to apply

The application process is not yet open. When it starts information will be provided to every community. There are no academic requirements to apply, except basic reading and writing in English.

The criteria include

  • personal qualities
  • an understanding of Indigenous midwifery
  • relevant experience from work, school or life

Applicants will need to submit a CV as well as references. Some of those people will be chosen for an interview. Support will be given to make the CV and prepare for the interview. The selection committee is made up of a midwife, the midwifery education program PPRO, an Elder and an Eeyou/Eenou’ch Birth Assistant or midwifery client. 


History of midwifery in Eeyou Istchee

Traditionally, every Eeyou/Eenou’ch family had a midwife. With colonization, Indigenous midwives were outlawed and pregnant people were evacuated for birth in hospitals in the South with doctors. 

Since 2004, the Cree Health Board and Eeyou Istchee communities have worked hard to return birth to the territory. Midwifery Services began in Chisasibi in 2017 with Québecoise midwives providing care plans for expansion of services to Waskaganish and Mistissini are underway. Birth Homes are being built in the three poles. 


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    Man comforts pregnant woman who is in labour
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    Elders with midwife
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    Sharing traditional childbirth practices
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    2 babies lying head to head
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    2 mothers holding their babies
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    Woman looking at sleeping baby
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    Setup for giving birth in a teepee
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    Equipment for giving birth in a teepee
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    2 elders sharing traditional practices
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    Birthing and midwifery in the Nishiiyuu tiipii in Chisasibi
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    Baby clothes and toys
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    Elders laughing during birthing and midwifery session in the Nishiiyuu tiipii in Chisasibi
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    Baby on ground being wrapped in swaddling material
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    Hands tying up baby swaddling material
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    Baby being passed during birthing and midwifery in the Nishiiyuu tiipii in Chisasibi
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    Elders sharing stories of giving birth in Eeyou Istche
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    Elder laughing as he holds baby

Indigenous midwifery is going through a period of reclamation and there are now about 100 Indigenous Midwives and 50 students across Canada.

Midwifery Training outside Eeyou Istchee

Most midwives in Canada train in university programs in the South. Université des Trois-Rivieres du Québec is the university midwifery education program in Québec. Cegep Sciences are required for admission and it is taught in French. The program is full-time over four years and is a mix of classroom and hands-on learning. 

Graduates are licensed by the Ordre des Sages-femmes du Québec and hired by the Ministry of Health.  

Indigenous communities in Quebec can train and license their own midwives. These programs are home-grown. Graduates can be licensed by the Band Council and only work on territory OR they can be licensed like the university graduates.

The oldest community-based Indigenous midwifery education program is in Nunavik and has been running since 1985. Inuk midwives take care of all the pregnant people on territory throughout all the life stages. 95% of Inuit births are on-territory, and they have excellent outcomes. 


Explore more

Healthy women having a normal pregnancy can choose to be followed by a midwife based in Chisasibi.

The Nishiiyuu Miyupimaatisiiun department works to ensure that Cree knowledge and values are reflected in CBHSSJB services.

Delivers most of our health and social services to clients in each community. 

Helps make our services stronger through good planning, and works on creating healthy communities through partnerships. 


Our Partners

Grand Council of the Crees logo
Santé et des Services sociaux logo
Health Canada logo