Water ceremony marks official start of midwifery program

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Students from the College of Nursing's bachelor of midwifery program.

Students in the new bachelor of midwifery program: Jenna Demkiw, Hannah Olson, Emily Howarth, Laura Warkentin, Brooke-Lyn Wahoski and Susie Penner.

The College of Nursing’s bachelor of midwifery program welcomed its first group of new students on Aug. 31 with a water ceremony facilitated by Elder Thelma Morrisseau at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at Fort Garry campus.

Assisted by Desiree Morrisseau from the Indigenous Student Centre at Migizii Agamik – Bald Eagle Lodge, the ceremony was attended by the six newly admitted midwifery students, the midwifery faculty and staff, Dr. Netha Dyck, dean of the College of Nursing, Sarah Davis from the Midwives Association of Manitoba, and Janice Erickson, registrar of the College of Midwives of Manitoba.

Dr. Kellie Thiessen, director of the program, noted the program also held a water ceremony in January 2019 to mark the beginning of work on integrating Indigenous perspectives into the midwifery curriculum.

“The water ceremony was a very meaningful way to start off our journey to becoming midwives. To honour water as a life-giving force at a time when we will be learning how to care for those bringing life into the world was beautiful and fraught with symbolism,” said student Laura Warkentin.

Originally from Steinbach, Man., Warkentin said she has three children of her own and has long dreamed of being a midwife.

“All three of my children were born here in the southeast under the wonderful care of the southern health midwives. The care my family and I received from them only solidified my dreams of pursuing midwifery,” she said.

“The relationship midwives have with those they serve is more of a partnership where people are encouraged to participate in planning their care which helps build confidence and in my opinion, sets people up to have confidence in parenthood as well.”