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Birth places, embodied spaces: Tlicho pregnancy stories across the generations

Faculty Advisor




Indigenous women, pregnancy and child birth, colonization, Canada

Abstract (summary)

The forced culture changes of colonization in Canada affected Indigenous societies at different points in time; colonization of the Tlicho (formerly Dogrib) region in the Northwest Territories (NWT) was considered to have been relatively recent. The profound changes to the lives of the Tlicho can be heard in the stories across the generations. To investigate the impact of colonization on Tlicho maternal health, I collected pregnancy and the birth stories from Tlicho women of different generations. 1 Generations were further expanded with the addition of Joan Ryan's work with Tlicho Elders in Whati, NWT, and Pertice Moffitt's discussions with younger Tlicho women in Behchoko, NWT. I collected pregnancy and birth stories from ten Tlicho women between the ages of sixty through ninety in the Tlicho communities of Behchoko and Whati over the summers of 2013 and 2014. The women met with me in their homes and most shared their stories in Tlicho with the aid of an interpreter. Grounded in women's narratives, particularly of Tlicho Elders and a traditional midwife, their stories reveal changes in the lived experiences of pregnancy and birth as reflecting different sociohistoric locations within histories of colonization-from birth on the land with community and midwives, to the beginnings of settlement and birth in the mission hospital in Rae, and to lone evacuation to Yellowknife for medicalized birth in a biomedical hospital.

Publication Information

Dawson L. (2017). Birth places, embodied spaces: Tlicho pregnancy stories across the generations. In H. T. Neufeld, & J. Cidro (Eds.), Indigenous experiences of pregnancy and birth (Chapter 8, pp. 144-162). Demeter Press.



Item Type

Book Chapter



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