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The women who may help with your labours

Jody Jacobs (left) and Kánahne Rice are two of the doulas-in-training through the Konwati’shatstenhsherawi’s (Women Empowering Women) program. (Jessica Deer, The Eastern Door)


Kánahne Rice found her passion for helping women as a young teenager, after she witnessed the birth of a family member.

“I just fell in love with it. I just thought it was a very beautiful process, part of life,” said Rice.

Rice is one of 15 Kanien’kehá:ka doulas-in-training through Konwati’shatstenhsherawi’s (Women Empowering Women), a grassroots program started last fall to train community birth helpers.

“My long-term goal is to become a midwife, so I did some research and I found out I could be a doula for right now. It’s just going to help me get experience and learn how to work with moms and families,” said Rice.

On Wednesday evening, the women held an open house at the Family and Wellness Centre to show the community what kind of non-medical support available during the preparation for birth and throughout the birthing process.

“There’s a lot of emotional things that go on when you’re growing another human being, to have a doula as a non-judgemental person just to listen and to support and give them that space to share anything that they wish to share,” said Jody Jacobs, another doula-in-training.

“You’re learning about interpersonal relationships, you’re learning about how to be non-judgemental, to learn about how to make connections with people and to help them enjoy their birth, and that’s such a sacred time for any mother or father or any family member.”

Like Rice, Jacobs found her passion to become a doula after witnessing her first birth.

“It was after I had two of my own children I had witnessed my first birth that I wasn’t the mother. I just felt at home, where I was supposed to be. I enjoyed it, I liked helping, I liked assisting, I liked the whole process from beginning to end,” said Jacobs.

“I had attended several births as well and it still just felt that’s where I was most comfortable, in that setting. Now that my children are older, I have more time to devote to this new passion and path in my life.”

The women’s training started in October and will conclude in July. Coordinator Lee Scott felt there was a need for the program.

“I took training myself and I saw how amazing it was, and I thought about the community. It just seemed that we could use that and it’s something that women did all the time. Women always supported other women, so it’s a way to revitalize it,” she said.

The First Nations Regional Adult Education Centre, KSCS, the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre, as well as Brooklyn Leblanc and Glen Delaronde, sponsored the grassroots community initiative.

Scott said the major difference between regular doula training and Konwati’shatstenhsherawi’s is the incorporation of traditional Kanien’kehá:ka teachings. It’s something doula-in-training Hayley Delaronde feels in the most important part of the program.

“Everyone is supporting pregnant women in our families, but it’s reconnecting us all to our culture and who we are. If we have mothers that our empowered and confident and re-connected with who we are, that’s going to their babies,” said Delaronde.

“We want to bring back language, we want to bring back culture and our teachings, the importance and roles of women, so it’s an empowerment-type course and I think the traditional aspect will bring people more back to who are born to be.”

Doula services are already being offered for donation, with free services available as well. Those interested in more information can call 450-638-3433 or kahnawakedoulas@gmail.com.

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Jessica Deer was a staff reporter from 2015-2018 who started out in 2008 as a summer student.