Returning home in March 2012, she established Kenhtè:ke Midwives, Kontinenhanónhnha Tsi Tkahà:nayen, “They are protecting the seeds at the Bay of Quinte” she formally opened its doors, in May 2012, from her home located on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. For the last 5 years our birth team consisted of 3 dedicated women; Dorothy, a full-time Onkwehón:we /Indigenous midwife; Tewahsehtha Brant, an apprentice/student midwife and Mary McBride, a Birth Attendant. The Apprentice Onkwehón:we midwife is a community member and continues her training under Dorothy’s mentor/preceptorship. The birth attendant is a retired maternity and special care pediatric nurse with over 30 plus years of experience at Belleville General Hospital. She also worked for Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte as a Breastfeeding Consultant and co-mentored, one of our young community women, who became an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
Kenhtè:ke Midwives operated for over five years with very limited resources and funding. All three of us, worked to support ourselves and our families while, maintaining the practice. We practiced the ‘old way’ of utilizing the barter system with our clients and our practice was advertised, only by ‘word of mouth’. We were able to support women and families in our community and, other Kanyen’kéhaka/ Rotinosonni communities. The practice has seen repeat clients! Mary McBride, our Birth Attendant retired in March 2017 at the age of 68 and is enjoying travelling!
Kenhtè:ke Midwives embraces the delicate balance of evidenced-based Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to provide primary maternal and newborn healthcare to Indigenous individuals and families.
With the 2017 MOHLTC funding in place we have developed an interdisciplinary team that includes: a full-time Onkwehón:we midwife, an Apprentice Onkwehón:we midwife, a Birth Attendant, an Executive Director, a Program Assistant, a House-Mother, a Maternity Care Worker, three Auntie’s/Doula’s, a Kanyen’kéhaka Language Resource Coordinator, a Kanyen’kéhaka Knowledge Keeper/Translator, a Traditional Counsellor, a part-time maintenance person and newly formed Board of Directors!
Our extended resource people includes: Traditional Knowledge Keepers, Language Speakers, Traditional Medicine Practitioners and other Traditional Practitioners. We have provided care that extends to other Haudenosaunee/Rotinosonni communities such as: Six Nations, Ganienkeh, Akwesasne and Kahnawake.
We maintain professional working relationships with the Six Nations Maternal & Child Centre, National Aboriginal Council of Midwives, Association of Ontario Midwives, Quinte Midwives, Community Midwives of Kingston, local Nurse Practitioners, General Practitioners, Obstetricians, Pediatricians and other specialists at Belleville General Hospital and Kingston General Hospital.
After years of lobbying with the province to fund Aboriginal Midwives practicing under the exemption, in the Midwifery Act and the Regulated Health Act, the province released an announcement in early February 2017 stating that Kenhtè:ke Midwives were 1 of the 6 funded Midwifery Practices. Lynn Brant has been a staunch advocate and instrumental in assisting in these presentations and proposal writing for the funding we have today.
Kenhtè:ke Midwives seek to “reclaim the responsibility of life by birthing our children in the hands of our own people, on our land, using our language, traditions, culture and traditional medicines. It is our responsibility to ensure the protection and safety of our children and well-being of our families”.
One of the ways in creating this change was to develop an extended support system for clients and their families. Dorothy partnered with the Six Nations Maternal & Child Centre, National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NACM), Susan Martensen, Doulas of North America International (DONA) and Jessica Danforth and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) to provide community-based training that blended traditional ways and western practices in providing emotional, physical and informational support to clients.
Since 2012, Dorothy has facilitated trainings in Tyendinaga (2), Six Nations (2), the Ottawa Birth Centre co-facilitating a Full Spectrum Doula Training and most recent another Auntie/Doula training in March 2017. Over the last year, she has incorporated trained auntie’s/doulas into the practice expanding “The Birth Circle” (this is a term that has been handed-down from generation to generation; from her great-grandmother to her grandmother and now she is a woman helping women give birth in their communities).
Dorothy continues to advocate and lobby for access to funding and resources for a birthing centre in Kenhtè:ke. She is a member of the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NACM), Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM), Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN), Ontario Women’s Health Network (OWHN). She is an advocate for change in our communities and educates General Practitioners, OB/GYN’s, Pediatricians and Maternal Child staff at local area hospitals in the need to be aware and respectful when caring for Indigenous women, babies and families. She is also involved in Indigenous Research in having “Our Voices Heard” and travels to share her knowledge as an Onkwehonwe midwife and to “Believe, Everything is Possible”.