“We have to go back to the beginning.”
That’s what Indigenous grandmothers told Jolene Mercer and Kathleen Bluesky, who shared the story of Wiiji’idiwag Ikwewag with us for the latest episode of the Child & Youth Diabetes Strategy Virtual Learning Series. Wiiji’idiwag Ikewewag means “Women Helping Each Other,” and they offer birth helper services to Indigenous expectant mothers throughout Manitoba. Going back to the beginning means that health starts at preconception and pregnancy—and that we must honour the role of life-givers. Wiiji’idiwag Ikewewag advocates for reproductive justice through sovereignty and integrating traditional cultures into birth and parenting.
Mercer and Bluesky explained the work they do to comprehensively support Indigenous mothers from prenatal, through birth and delivery, to postpartum. They also share their experiences from participating in the Restoring the Sacred Bond Social Impact Bond, in which the Lawson Foundation was an impact investor. The Foundation has continued this relationship with a three-year grant to Wiiji’idiwag Ikwewag to expand their work.
In case you missed this episode of the Child & Youth Diabetes Virtual Learning Series, check out the recording here!