Arlene Pitawanakwat, Community Wellness Worker Kiki Peltier, and Community Health Representative Doreen Jacko participate in Traditional Teachings for a Healthy Pregnancy workshop Jan. 28 in Whitefish River First Nation.

Arlene Pitawanakwat, Community Wellness Worker Kiki Peltier, and Community Health Representative Doreen Jacko participate in Traditional Teachings for a Healthy Pregnancy workshop Jan. 28 in Whitefish River First Nation.

WHITEFISH RIVER FIRST NATION – “As women we play a vital role to ensure our waters are kept clean and pure, this also includes the waters protecting the unborn babies,” says Laura Liberty Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder worker for the Lake Huron Region in Anishinabek territory.

Liberty’s session in Whitefish River First Nation on Jan.28 began with a water ceremony, a prayer and the Universal Water Song adapted to reflect Whitefish River dialect.

Participants also shared their knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of a woman during pregnancy or “Maajiishkaa” – expecting a baby.

The father’s role is equally important too and it is vital he be healthy in body, mind and spirit. Aboriginal midwives advice that new drugs are leaving a longer residue and recommend would- be parents to be “clean” for at least 18 months prior to conceiving. This window used to be three months, the length of time to produce sperm.

Although there are thousands of harmful agents that can harm a fetus, research indicates that alcohol consumed by mom during pregnancy has far more long lasting and damaging effects. This is attributed to the development of the fetus’ brain throughout the entire pregnancy.

It is important to note that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is not unique to First Nations. FASD is observed throughout the world. First Nations, however have a unique approach to address the impacts caused by pre-natal alcohol exposure. The belief is that children choose their own path before arriving on mother earth.  Those that choose a path tougher than others are held in high regard and are considered to have unique gifts that when supported and shared, can provide many teachings.

The  information session enables the creation of tiny newborn moccasins in order to form an emotional bond with babies who are yet to arrive. This emotional bond helps families prepare themselves in a good way and to make healthy choices to ensure the baby is healthy as can be! Participants were reminded when creating items – you place your spirit, thoughts and feelings into them so it’s always important to be thinking and feeling positive thoughts!