Our Origin Story
The ekw’í7tl Indigenous doula collective was established in 2015 by two Indigenous doulas who were passionate about birth work and carrying forward their families’ midwifery traditions. After being trained as doulas, they felt isolated and didn’t know where to find a community of other Indigenous doulas in the city. They wanted to feel a sense of connection as doulas who support families during pregnancy, birth, labour, the postpartum period and beyond.
After a chance meeting at a decolonizing sexuality event, Jessica and Keisha connected and began visioning to create a collective that could fill the gaps that they felt by supporting Indigenous doulas and families in Vancouver. Along the way, two Indigenous doulas, Danette and Sophie came into the circle to lead the work, and the ekw’í7tl Indigenous doula collective was born.
What started out as a conversation around someone’s kitchen table is now growing and garnering attention from press such as the CBC news.
The ekw’í7tl doula collective is a network of Vancouver-based Indigenous doulas and student midwives. Doulas are non-medical companions who offer holistic (emotional, mental, physical and spiritual) support. We provide culturally relevant care to Indigenous families through the full-spectrum of reproductive-health related experiences, including pregnancy, birth, postpartum, pregnancy loss, family planning, menstruation, and abortion. We offer educational workshops and trainings to families, doulas, and health systems partners.
We serve families who self-identify as Indigenous. Primarily we serve pregnant people and new parents who identify as women. Our clients include racialized Indigenous and Indigenous LGBTQ2 people, people who use drugs, people involved with child welfare, insecurely housed folks, and people who have travelled to Vancouver for perinatal healthcare services from other parts of the province. We work alongside midwives, doctors and other health systems partners to educate and advocate for Indigenous women’s health and gender inclusivity in reproductive health care.
The ekw’í7tl doula collective operates within a land-based Indigenous framework that centres on community values and equilateral leadership. We work to dismantle hierarchies and create opportunities for shared leadership with a focus on being accountable to one another and respecting the visions that we have in this work.
We honour that each of our collective members offers unique gifts and perspectives to the work. Our approach is to uplift one another and to support each other to pursue our interests, and operate autonomously while wrapped in a community-of-practice and community-of-care. We hold many roles in our communities: aunties, mothers, students, educators, language revitalizers, land and water defenders, and advocates to name a few. Therefore, each ekw’í7tl doula participates in collective activities to their level of interest and availability. We meet on an ad hoc basis; with administrative duties and collective activities shared amongst us as outlined below:
Danette (Founding Member), Director, Research and Education
Keisha (Founding Member), Director
Miranda, Director, Policy and Partnerships
Valeen, Director, Queer Nation-Building
Our logo was designed by Jada-Gabrielle Pape, a Coast Salish artist and mother from the Saanich and Snuneymuxw Nations.
Joining Our Collective
If you are an Indigenous community member and/or doula who would like to become part of our collective, please see: joining the collective.