Making Room in Our Communities

Making room – in our communities, in our lives, in our hearts – does not always come easily. In Wisconsin, making room for babies to thrive meant first creating the space for communities to overcome conflict:

There was historical animosity and mistrust that had developed over the years between two Ojibwe tribal bands in Wisconsin as a result of colonization. Program coordinators at both tribes decided to jointly train doulas in order to bring strong, healthy women together on common ground. “If we didn’t have this opportunity to come together through HRSA [a federal agency] and HC One, we would still be stuck,” explains Jennifer Boulley, Home Visiting Program Coordinator and Community-Based Doula with the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior, with the Chippewa Community-based Doula Project. “The Community- Based Doula program offered an opportunity to unearth some of the effects of colonization, look at them together, and as strong Ojibwe women, begin to discuss and implement culturally appropriate solutions.”

Stacey and Rachel doula on 1
“Keep Calm and Doula On” with HealthConnect One Board Member Stacey Austin and Executive Director Rachel Abramson

“The 20 weeks of [doula] training was a journey that truly mimicked birth,” Boulley reports. “Training started – everyone was excited and happy about the work – then it got harder. People began to resist a little bit, challenges came, barriers were there. This group, curriculum, and the circle we created really afforded the opportunity for all of us to hash it out, get down to the nitty gritty, and say what it is we are holding onto. Was it tough? Yeah, it was really tough. Were there tears? Heck yeah. Lots of tears, but those tears were healing tears … and it was necessary to go through that to get beyond it, to get to a place of light and hope and to really see where we stood as sisters on the circle. Collectively, we now have a deeper connection and a deeper respect for ourselves, each other, and birth.”

Making room for babies means supporting one another through challenging times. It means not looking away.

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