An articulation of the standpoint of peer support workers to inform childbearing program supports in Manitoba First Nation communities: institutional ethnography as de- colonizing methodology

Rachel Eni
Faculty of Medecine (Community Health Science), University of Manitoba
July, 2005


The dissertation focuses on the work that prenatal peer support workers do in First Nation communities to foster the health of childbearing women. The purpose of the analysis is to unravel system discourses and to retrieve the 'truth' as it is experience articulated by women living in Manitoba First Nation communities today. Several questions are included in the overall analysis. Such as, who guides the women in their work? Who informs, supports, restricts them? How is this women's work connected to the 'bigger picture' of health for pregnant and childbearing First Nation women in Canada? What factors infringed upon the original stories of pregnancy and childbirth in Aboriginal communities resulting in the medicalization and risk discourses that exist today? The main objective of the study is to apply a methodology that allows for an analysis of the everyday work perceptions and experiences of First Nation women employed in their communities to administer childbearing support programs. The local work is analyzed within the context of an institutional picture of health care delivery in Manitoba, Canada. This study is required to raise awareness about the childbearing support work that women do in First Nation communities and to elucidate the bonds that tie this work together with the greater institutional health and social service structures. Such an exploration may highlight the potential of pregnancy and childbirth care to enrich the physical and spiritual lives of First Nation women living in remote, reserve communities.