Tekatsi:tsia’kwa (Katsi Cook), Executive Director

Katsi is a member of the St.Regis Mohawk Tribe. She was born and grew up on the territory of Akwesasne along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. Her Mohawk name, Tekatsi:tsia’kwa, means “she’s picking up flowers”, a good name for an Indigenous midwife to carry. 

Serving as an ambassador to the landscape of Indigenous women and girls leadership circles, Katsi holds the values, vision, and purpose of the Spirit Aligned Leadership Program, imparting her knowledge of Indigenous communities and decades of culture-based program design, direction, and implementation. As executive director, she maintains an Advisory Committee and focuses on increasing the representational range of Spirit Aligned by sharing her time, energy, and elder wisdom throughout Indian Country. Katsi partners with the Elders Council of the Indigenous Justice Division of Ontario, in response to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and continues her activism in advancing the aims of Indigenous midwifery. 

Prior to leading this new work to support the wellbeing and thriving lives of Indigenous women Elders, Katsi’s work spans many worlds and disciplines and demonstrates a life-long career of advancing the superlatives of Indigenous Knowledge. She is an advocate of Indigenous women’s health across the lifecycle, drawing from a longhouse traditionalist perspective the idea of Woman as the First Environment. She has based previous work in the First Environment Collaborative, working at the intersections of environmental health and justice and reproductive health and justice research and policy. Her groundbreaking environmental research of Mohawk mothers’ milk revealed the harmful generational impact of toxic pollutants within the St. Lawrence River. Katsi continues to serve her community as a director of the Akwesasne Health Care Foundation, Inc. that works to restore the Akwesasne environment. 

As a professional member of the Interim Regulatory Council of the College of Midwives of Ontario in 1991, Katsi worked with colleagues to implement the exemption for Aboriginal Midwives and Healers in the 1991 Midwifery Act and the Regulated Health Professions Act in Ontario, Canada. In 1992, Katsi became the founding Aboriginal midwife of the Six Nations Birthing Centre, the first and only freestanding birth centre in Canada at that time. Its practices are grounded in the concept of the Haudenosaunee Creation story.

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