Shomporko Online News Desk: According to a new study, Indigenous individuals in rural Canada are 16 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to travel considerable distances to give birth, sometimes hundreds of kilometers.
The findings were discovered through a study of data from a government survey on maternal experiences in Canada, which was released Monday by researchers from multiple universities, hospitals, and health institutes.
The results of the review, which included 3,100 mothers living in small and rural towns across Canada, revealed a staggering disparity between the experiences of those across several different communities — that 23 percent of Indigenous women had traveled 200 km or more to give birth compared to only two per cent of non-Indigenous.
“I knew there would be a disparity, but I never imagined that the disparity would be so extreme, particularly since we weren’t including First Nations women on reserves,” Dr. Janet Smylie, who is Métis-Cree and is a family practitioner and professor of public health at the University of Toronto, told a Canadian Medical Association Journal podcast.
Smylie and the other co-authors of the study had also taken into account several other socio-economic factors experienced by Indigenous people, pointing specifically that mothers from those communities were more “likely to be single, have lower levels of education, have an income under $30,000 a year, have experienced abuse and have been admitted to hospital during pregnancy than non-Indigenous mothers.”
They had also specified that the sample of 3,100 had been weighted to represent 31,000 mothers — which comprised 1,800 Indigenous and 29,300 non-Indigenous — and that First Nations women who were living on reserve were excluded from the survey. Smylie said that for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, giving birth close to home is a very important tradition because the land is considered a part of their family.“If you have to move away from where you’re from, it’s like leaving a very important relative out of the birth experience,” said Smylie. Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and expert on Indigenous and refugee health at the University of Toronto, said she wasn’t surprised by the findings of the report.
Source_Canadian Medical Association Journal podcast