Accepted Paper:

Cree perceptions of 'healthy' birth: continuity and change of Wemindji Cree childbirth practices  

Author:

Ieva Paberzyte (McGill University)

Paper short abstract:

What is a 'healthy' birth for Cree mothers? I will present preliminary results of my ethnographic study on the continuity and change of Wemindji Cree (Northern Quebec, Canada) childbirth practices, which reveal Cree perceptions of 'healthy' birth.

Paper long abstract:

In the context of Cree concept of health - 'miyupimatsiun', which literally translates as 'being alive-well' (Adelson 2000), I will present Wemindji Cree (Northern Quebec, Canada) childbirth practices in the past and the present. Since time immemorial, Cree children were born in the bush, surrounded by their family and community. Colonization and eventually medicalization of Cree life resulted in the policy of evacuating all expectant Cree women to southern hospitals several weeks prior to birth. The full transition between birth in the bush and birth in the hospital took place between the 1940s and the 1980s and is still within living memory of Wemindji Cree. What was and what is a good, 'healthy' birth for Cree? How do Cree mothers and their families adapt to new circumstances, and how do they create environment necessary for a good 'healthy' birth? Based on the interviews with Cree Elders, mothers and their families, I will discuss Cree childbirth knowledge and practices that persist, transform and evolve in a current environment.

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