***please forward widely***
The Brown Birthing Network is a network of people of colour, midwives, doulas and allies interested in developing discussion of and access to natural childbirth and "alternative" childraising options in communities of colour. This will be a space for activists to exchange strategies and ideas on initiatives to develop in their communities. The BBN is supported by QPIRG-Concordia in Montreal.
Here are the planned activities for the coming year:
- presenting a letter to the Canadian Association of Midwives on the lack of women of colour/immigrant women in midwifery (see letter below)
- printing a newsletter featuring news, opinion and art on natural childbirth and "alternative" childraising in communities of colour (February 2004, May 2004)
- for African Liberation Day (May 25th 2004) a screening of Rhonda L. Haynes's "Bringin' in da Spirit", a documentary that tells of African American midwives and their efforts to preserve not merely a profession, but a traditional way of life.
For more information on the BBN's activities, contact Nadine Mondestin by email ([email protected]
) or by telephone (514-481-9915).
If you would like to co-sign the letter, please email [email protected]
with your name and any other information on how you'd like to be identified (for example: Nadine Mondestin, mother and activist).
Letter to CAM
We (parents, midwives, doulas, activists) call on the Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM) and all defenders of natural childbirth to make a commitment to true social justice and equality by addressing the lack of diversity within the midwifery profession and its clientele.
Two of the key gains of women's health movements worldwide in the last 30 years have been the recognition of midwifery and natural childbirth. The objectives were twofold:
- recognise and legitimise women's expertise, which has been handed down over thousands of generations of midwives;
- give birthing women more control over their bodies and their birthing experiences while reinforcing pride and confidence in women's abilities.
A lot of ground remains to be covered - access to midwifery services still remains a marginal phenomenon, with the vast majority of women still giving birth in highly medicalized, highly interventionist institutions. Organisations such as CAM, Le Regroupement les sages-femmes du QuNibec and Groupe MAMAN, to name a few, work towards cementing the gains already made and broadening the opportunities for change.
But it seems contradictory that in a movement born out of the desire to create better options for women's health, certain groups of women constitute a disproportionately small minority in both the profession of midwifery and access to the services - immigrants/women of colour, queer and transgendered folk, and women with disabilities. The expansion of midwifery requires the active involvement of everyone.
We ask that CAM make addressing the issues of social justice and equity central to its mandate, both in the makeup of its membership and of midwifery in general, and that CAM reexamine how and where information about midwifery services is disseminated and to whom.
Furthermore, as this relates to communities of colour and immigrant communities we ask that:
1 - CAM devote resources to addressing the recognition of midwives of colour trained outside of Canada, given that the current systems discriminate against them in various ways;
2 - CAM set aside resources to do outreach in communities of colour in order to share information about midwifery as a career option;
3 - CAM recognize a commitment to midwifery students of colour as an investment in the delivery of services to women of colour;
4 - CAM recognize midwifery students of colour as "at risk" due to their isolation and low numbers in midwifery programs around the country and that CAM reach out to these students by providing culturally/ethnically specific supports;
5 - CAM seek out and support initiatives led by communities of colour and their allies to promote and develop natural childbirth in those communities.