Yukon midwifery association to study past Indigenous birth culture

'I think it's really important to honour what the practices were, who held the knowledge,' said Kathleen Cranfield of the Community Midwifery Association.

Yukon government gives $74,360 to research project, which will begin this year

The Yukon government is funding the project that will result in a booklet of stories that document traditional birthing culture in Yukon. (Andrew Shurtleff/Associated Press)

The Yukon government is putting money toward a research project that will document Indigenous communities' historical approach to midwifery and childbirth.

The Community Midwifery Association will receive $74,360 for the project, which will begin this year.

"I think it's really important to honour what the practices were, who held the knowledge ... and what were the practices, from prenatal stages of childbirth and the transition to motherhood," said the association's president, Kathleen Cranfield.

"It's important to acknowledge, when you're re-introducing the profession of midwifery to a jurisdiction, that we acknowledge what the history here was."

Cranfield says it's not just about midwifery, since not all First Nations would have used that term. 

The goal is to produce a booklet of stories that describe the traditional culture around childbirth, "from pre-contact to however it was maintained," Cranfield said.

The project will involve working groups set up in communities around the territory, to collect interviews and stories. Cranfield says the project will be led "significantly by the First Nations."

"We'd just like to help to preserve the stories," she said. "We hope to start off small and ask for permission to start some of these focus groups and see where it leads us."

In a statement, Economic Development Minister Ranj Pillai said the research project "will allow Indigenous women in Yukon to reconnect with their culture and traditions."

With files from Mike Rudyk