Te Mauri - Pimatisiwin

Bodies of Water: Exploring Birth Place and Ceremony in Manitoba, Canada

Abstract

The place of birth is a part of the political landscape of Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian state. This paper explores the notion of birth place and the relationship between Aboriginal people and the land and water through the notion of ‘carrying water’. Based on qualitative interviews with elder women who practice Midewiwin ceremony, this paper explores ceremonies surrounding birth and the relationship that is created through these practices. By understanding the importance of the continuance of ceremony for individuals and communities, a new understanding of the current state of maternity care in Aboriginal communities emerges and extends to broader discourses of indigenous rights. The paper concludes that in the ceremonial practices of a group of Aboriginal women in Manitoba, the generalized discourse of realizing rights becomes an intimate and complex process of place making through the relationship of bodies and landscape.

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