I began my childbearing years with pregnancy loss. It was devastating and I have only just begun to understand the full impact of how that loss has shaped my life since then. In 2002 I birthed my first beautiful live baby. It was a tumultuous and amazing journey. My child’s arrival into the world, and into my world lit my life on fire, while simultaneously bringing love to my heart in a way I had never imagined. Yet I suffered intensely with postpartum mood disorders, which brought me to resources and a community which would put me on the beginning of the path I continue to follow with reverence and gratitude to this day.
I was blessed to birth two more living children with birth experiences that changed my life. After some years in social service work, I began to see that birth support and family protection is the ultimate source of child protection, which marked my entry into the doula and child birth educator world.
2017 my life changed again, newly separated and single parenting, I was brought into the prenatal program outreach position at the Friendship Centre here on the ancestral lands of the Katzie, Kwantlen and Semiahmoo peoples. As a human with Ancestors of Welsh and Norwegian descent who settled, (stole land), on treaty 4 territory, the traditional and Ancestral lands of the Cree Nation, (the Nekaneet and peoples of the Dakota territories), I was surprised and yet completely honoured to be invited into supporting the birthing community. I was ready to give, but am still overwhelmed at all I have received.
I have spent every day in relationship with the beautiful community there, unlearning and working at decolonizing my understanding of life. It has been an immense undertaking, and the first three years were brutal. I relapsed into substance use, as a way of medicating the shame I felt from all I was called to bear witness to as an allied support in the birthing world of Indigenous families. Today, my abstinence from substances is something I am most grateful for. The journey has deepened my practice to include harm reduction and how to support families with perinatal substance use; and how to bring messages of compassion and empathy for parents suffering the ills of addiction into the maternal care systems; including the child welfare system.
I am humbled to have been gifted so much; so much beauty, love, and teachings from Elders, Knowledge Keepers, families, Life Givers, and babies. I am excited to begin to see the changes happening in systems as the citizens of “Canada” awaken to the legacy of oppression that continues to be far from over, and begins to hear the calls for Truth and Reconciliation. My contribution here is very much in response to hearing my own call to change my relationship to colonization, and push to expose and call for an end to white supremacy. This has changed how I walk my earth walk every day, and certainly informs the way I support all of my families.
In 2020 I became engaged to my beloved, a Kwakwaka’wakw man named Tlakwa’dzi. Our love and our brief time together has impacted me more than I can ever name in words. In 2021 I lost him suddenly, to a heart attack, two days after I lost my father and a month before my grandmother passed. These losses have shifted the trajectory of my work to include Grief and Loss coaching. It still feels like doula work, just in another way. I have been blessed to find love again, with a wonderful Cree man. Loving after loss is another story altogether. But my work and my life include these experiences. I write about them and share their lessons in my relations.
My training and education includes social service work at Langara College, DONA birth and postpartum doula training, Douglas College 18 hour breastfeeding support certification, nkashAytkn Indigenous Doula training, Red Path program facilitator, pregnancy and postpartum massage certification, ACE personal Training, Jessie Mundell Fitness Group Postpartum pelvic floor and core fitness training, and ICF Seeds of Growth Pregnancy and Infant Loss Coaching certification. I have been supporting families for 23 years and counting. I am a proud sister in the Kilila Birth Keeper collective. You can visit them at www.kililabirthkeepercollective.com. I look forward to connecting with you.
Corina is blessed to live with her family, work and pray upon the unceded and traditional territory of the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwantlen and Musqueam First Nations, as well as the ceded territories of the Tsawwassen First Nation. Much gratitude to all of the Ancestors of these lands. O’Siem