Reclaiming birth, health, and community: midwifery in the Inuit villages of Nunavik, Canada

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2007 Jul-Aug;52(4):384-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jmwh.2007.03.025.


This article describes the Inuulitsivik midwifery service and education program, an internationally recognized approach to returning childbirth to the remote Hudson coast communities of Nunavik, the Inuit region of Quebec, Canada. The service is seen as a model of community-based education of Aboriginal midwives, integrating both traditional and modern approaches to care and education. Developed in response to criticisms of the policy of evacuating women from the region in order to give birth in hospitals in southern Canada, the midwifery service is integrally linked to community development, cultural revival, and healing from the impacts of colonization. The midwifery-led collaborative model of care involves effective teamwork between midwives, physicians, and nurses working in the remote villages and at the regional and tertiary referral centers. Evaluative research has shown improved outcomes for this approach to returning birth to remote communities, and this article reports on recent data. Despite regional recognition and wide acknowledgement of their success in developing and sustaining a model for remote maternity care and aboriginal education for the past 20 years, the Nunavik midwives have not achieved formal recognition of their graduates under the Quebec Midwifery Act.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Female
  • Health Services, Indigenous / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Inuit*
  • Maternal Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Midwifery / organization & administration*
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Ontario
  • Pregnancy
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*