Chapter 74: Kanmani Guruswami the Midwife on countering colonialism with compassionate care


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Leslie and I welcomed a baby boy into the world just a few weeks ago.

Like our other three sons, he was sheparded into the world by Kanmani Guruswami and her incredible team of midwives at Kensington Midwives in downtown Toronto. Kanmani has become a guide for Leslie and me — supporting us physically, emotionally, and spiritually on our parenthood journey. Not only is she a veteran midwife, heading up the Kensington Midwives clinic, but she’s also a passionate activist who tirelessly focuses her energies towards making the world a kinder, more inclusive, and more empathetic place.

What do I mean?

You’ll hear it in seconds.

Born in Calgary to her Tamil-speaking engineer father from Tamil Nadu, India and her mathematician mother from Switzerland, Kanmani is the product of their hard work ethic and their struggles navigating many degrees of colonization and assimilation. Kanmani chose midwifery as a career path while assisting with home births in Vancouver and now for the past twenty years, her midwife clinic has assisted indigenous and settler Canadians.

I confess I knew nothing about midwifery a few years ago. Less than nothing! Less than less than nothing! But as I’ve been exposed to the work they do, I’ve come to believe it is truly critical and transformational to both families and broader society. I believe the work of midwives needs to be discussed, debated, and celebrated.

So Kanmani and I hung out on my couch in full PPE and masks right as she was finishing up an appointment with Leslie and my two-week-old son. We discuss things like: delivering versus catching, people of the global majority, what exactly midwives do, who exactly is a settler, the invisible effects of colonization, racism in health care, the magic of childbirth, and, of course, Jughead Jones.

Kanmani Guruswami is a local hero whose voice, stories, wisdom, and humanity should be amplified. So let’s amplify it! I hope her love and wisdom ripples deeply into your heart as it does to mine.

And now let’s flip the page into Chapter 74 …

What You'll Learn:

  • What is a midwife?

  • What are the trends around midwifery versus physician care?

  • What are the values underpinning midwife care?

  • What is assimilation?

  • What is the significance of the phrase: people of the global majority?

  • What is the Truth and Reconciliation movement?

  • What is cultural competence training?

  • What are some of the less discussed effects of colonization?

  • What does it mean to be ‘a Jughead’?

  • What is The Farm?

  • What is an ambivalent baby?

  • What holistic approaches do midwives bring to the magic of birthing a child?

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