Honouring Voices

Indigenous Voices and Visions

Honouring Voices

Illuminating Indigenous Women and Gender Diverse (WGD) Sexual, Reproductive, and Maternal-Child Health in Federal Correctional Facilities in Canada

Speaking with the Silenced

Indigenous women are over-represented within the Canadian correctional system and federal prisons. Despite representing just 4% of the Canadian female population (Arriagada, 2016), Indigenous women accounted for 41.4% of all federally incarcerated women in the 2018-2019 fiscal year (OCI, 2019).

Additionally, it is well established that incarcerated women and gender-diverse people have disproportionately high rates of poor health outcomes such as mental health disorders including substance use, as well as chronic and infectious diseases (Kouyoumdjian, Schuler, Matheson & Hwang, 2016; McLeod et al., 2020). Disparities are even more pronounced within the incarcerated Indigenous women’s population, with 97% diagnosed with a mental health disorder and 92% with moderate to high substance abuse needs (OCI, 2019).

Research conducted by Carter Ramirez et al. (2020) on the antenatal care of women incarcerated in Ontario found an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, and several recent research studies uncovered multiple barriers and delays to reproductive health care in prisons (Carter Ramirez et al., 2020; Kouyoumdjian et al., 2018; Liauw et al., 2016; 2021).

Given the over-representation of Indigenous women, these findings highlight the need to examine the reproductive health and health care of incarcerated Indigenous women.

This project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Indigenous Gender and Wellness Team Grant