The Restoring the Sacred Bond Initiative will be delivered in partnership with Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag.
Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag provides support that promotes traditional Indigenous child birth/parenting teachings capable of supporting Indigenous families and especially mothers in a traditional way.
Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag is committed to personal healing and wellness to foster nurturing and empowering relationships that will create a strong foundation to support communities and families.
Our vision is to leave a footprint with communities so that they may create their own path for:
Empowered families connected to their Indigenous language, culture, and identity throughout the journey of pregnancy, birth, postpartum and beyond.
Our purpose is to facilitate circles of women to come together and reclaim their roles as guardians of the sacred bond between mother and baby.
The two-year pilot program, Restoring the Sacred Bond Initiative, will match Birth Helpers with Indigenous mothers who may be at risk of having their infant apprehended into the child welfare system.
The program will support up to 200 at-risk expectant mothers before, during and after birth.
The Southern Network is leading the Initiative and working in partnership with the service provider, Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag, to identify expectant mothers in Winnipeg who may not have resources to effectively parent their baby. These mothers will then be connected to Birth Helpers, who are women trained to help with childbirth and early care.
Each Birth Helper will serve up to ten to twelve mothers at a time for nine to twelve months per mother.
The Birth Helpers will support mothers in the following ways:
Jolene Mercer is an Anishinaabe Ikwe from Peguis First Nation, a mother of four and a Kookum to a beautiful granddaughter.
Jolene attended the University of Manitoba, Red River College and the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program at the COADY International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University.
Jolene is a Certified First Nations Health Manager and has extensive experience working with First Nations communities and organizations in areas of finance, health, youth and strategic planning.
Jolene is a co-founder of Wiijii’diwag Ikwewag (formerly the Manitoba Indigenous Doula Initiative) and is passionate about the revitalization of Anishinaabe values and ways of being.
She brings the teachings of her Elders and Grandmothers into her work to support the empowerment of communities and people.