Karen Lawford
Karen’s background includes a B.Sc. in Sciences from Trent University and a Bachelor in Health Sciences specializing in midwifery.  She went on to earn a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa.  She is currently an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at Queen’s.  Her research interests are; maternity care on reserves, medical evacuation, Midwifery, Indigenous feminist theories and methodologies, Indigenous women and Two Spirit Leadership, Indigenous health and wellness, and health care.
Karen loves finding a solution to a problem.  She has investigated how health care systems work.  Health care in Canada involves many levels of government…Federal, Provincial and Territorial systems, although most people are unaware of the Federal system.  The Federal level of health care deals with the military, First Nations, penitentiaries and the RCMP.  A lot of these jurisdictional divisions go back to 1867, and also to the Indian Act of 1876.  This act allowed the government to have authority over all aspects of the lives of people on the reserves.  They were unable to leave a reserve without a pass, and attendance at the residential schools was compulsory.  If children were not sent there, the RCMP would come and get them.  The reserves are on what is considered Crown land, and this means residents cannot own the land, or make money from it.  The Indian  Act also specified that they couldn’t sell crops grown on the land.  This illustrates the power of the Indian Act.  Some groups recently have taken the government to court, for things like the under funding of schools. 
Karen’s specific interest is health care.  If you live on reserve then health care is federally provided.  Each reserve has its own funding agreement.  Care used to be provided by nurses, but some nursing stations are being closed, partly because there have been recent 40% cuts in funding. 
Karen showed us a map of Canada that showed the large number of tribal councils with different health care systems being managed by the Federal government.  It looks like a logistical nightmare.  All councils have different agreements with the Federal government.  All of Canada is covered by some Aboriginal treaty, but Indigenous people are saying that health care isn’t a treaty right but rather a human right.  Many treaties were signed under duress and in English which those signing didn’t understand. 
There are also four Inuit regions in Canada.  Comprehensive land agreements there include health care.  They cannot be negotiated any more even though the treaty was signed years ago, although there have been challenges to this now. 
Karen’s research during her M.A. found that in 1892 the government hired two obstetricians to deliver babies on reserves.  Now there is an evacuation policy, which means that toward the end of her pregnancy a woman has to travel to a larger city to wait for labor and delivery.  Astonishingly, this is still in effect.  One of the women in her research in Manitoba had to fly out of her community to Norway House and await delivery.  There is no prenatal education provided and no prenatal care.  When a woman leaves her community to give birth there is no provision for a family member to accompany her.  She is not allowed an escort. Another woman drove herself 1.5 hours to Winnipeg.  Because it turned out that she wasn’t actually in labour, she had to make this trip three times.  This was her first pregnancy.  She did have prenatal care from a nurse on her reserve, and two weeks of post-partum care.  If there had been a midwife on reserve she would have received the proper care most Canadian women have access to.  There is also the difficulty of having different health care systems involved in their care, and there seems to be a communication problem between these two providers.
Robert Reid thanked Karen with our traditional loaf of bread, and the hope that reconciliation will lead to better understanding.