A baby was born on the Sturgeon Lake First Nation for the first time in 50 years.

Kaleo Rabbitskin was born Wednesday at the Nation’s healing lodge with the help of midwives and traditional knowledge keepers.

Kaleo’s grandmother, senior nurse Norma Rabbitskin said the birth was very calm thanks to traditional ceremonies and songs.

“Throughout that early morning, through the night, she laboured at the healing lodge with our traditional medicine and access to smudging, songs and the caring, loving and nurturing treatment by our midwives.”   

Rabbitskin said they created a backup plan to take the mother and baby to Prince Albert in case they needed further medical attention.

The birth will be one of many as the First Nation is creating a traditional birthing program in the community.

This is a four prong approach, and the First Nation is currently on prong two and three which includes grounding cultural knowledge within maternal child programs, and building capacity and advocacy.

To increase their capacity in Sturgeon Lake, they will be building a cultural birthing centre where mothers can give birth traditionally with ceremony and Elders always available.

Rabbitskin said this is what the community wants to help it heal.

“We have to go back to our culture because that’s our prevention from what we’re seeing today with all of these challenges that we’re experiencing,” she said. “That’s the vision of the community.” 

Sturgeon Lake’s director of Health Shirley Bighead said this programming will help the Nation’s future children.

“I think that bringing our babies back into Sturgeon Lake is going to make such a difference in terms of their own mental health,” she said. “Coming into the world in a warm, welcoming environment where we have a welcoming ceremony, we have our grandmothers there (and) we have our grandfathers there.” 

The First Nation held a feast Monday to thank the community members who assisted in the birth either physically or by sharing their knowledge.

(PHOTO: The Sturgeon Lake First Nation had their first birth on the territory in 50 years. Senior nurse Norma Rabbitskin and midwives Carol Couchie and Nathalie Pambrun were there to help the mother. Photo courtesy of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation.)