Module 2.4: Aboriginal midwifery program halted

University College of the North had developed a Manitoba midwifery program with a core aboriginal focus in 2006.  This program, designed to help provide birth support to mothers in communities lacking complete medical facilities, or to assist women wanting a more traditional birth experience, was nationally unique, in that they were located far from an urban centre, and focused on admitting only indigenous students.

I have been interested in this program for many years, first as a student who desperately wanted to enter midwifery in a time before midwifery was a viable university program (UBC, McMaster & Ryerson Universities all now have well developed 4-year programs).  This program was plagued with issues, including having problems recruiting and retaining students, and difficulties having students deliver enough babies for graduation (there is a mandatory minimum birth attendance required).  Ultimately only 8 students graduated from this program, with the majority of them being non-aboriginal.  Instead of meaningful examination of why or how indigenous students were not attracted to or able to stay in the program, the province determined that it was best to overhaul the program and move it under the umbrella of the University of Manitoba’s broader medical program.

Based on the information released, it does not seem that this program was given evaluation to allow it to succeed.

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