How It All Started

It is tough to know where to begin. We suppose it was a fateful day in February 2019. There was a community forum in rural British Columbia, Canada (Turtle Island). A Researcher from UBC was hosting the event. They were interested in learning more about maternity care in rural BC. Nearing the end of this forum one birther spoke up and said something along the lines of  “…Yeah well those are all challenges for accessing maternity care in rural communities- but what about the mental health challenges and lack of care and people falling through the cracks…?” This birther went on to explain their struggles and challenges with lived and living experiences with mental health challenges with life in a rural community, in general and specifically around the perinatal period.

The conversation did not stop there- the next day the two met again and had further discussion. You could say this lit a fire under the researcher's ass. Within two months the two were working together to research these challenges and really try to understand what rural birthers needed. Fast forward to 2023 and voila the conception of PDA began.

The two researchers and their team were having a “blue sky” round table discussion on how best to create a true Peer to Peer support group that would be sustainable and scalable. It was then that the Citizen Researcher went off on their passion for 12 Step programs and how amazing they are. How tried, tested and proven they are and have been for almost a century.  However, just because something has longevity and is scalable doesn’t mean it serves a variety of demographics and underserved populations.

Most of the language in 12 Steps is centered around a male god ideology. And quite frankly, it was 2023 - time to decolonize the language and allow the Indigenous 7 Generations and 7 Grandfather teachings to guide us in this process. Through evaluating 11 long-standing 12 Step fellowships, it became clear that historically they were all copying and pasting one another, the good and the bad. But no significant issues were ever addressed in their origins. 

We knew we had to remove this notion that engaging with a  supernatural male being was the only way to work a 12 Step program. We had to acknowledge and respect that gender is diverse, culture is diverse, birthers lived experiences are diverse. How can we accept and encourage diversity in our approach?

Well, we asked the community. We gathered a Community Advisory Committee made up of people with lived and living experience to consult on our program development. We created The Booklet, The Workbook and said, “Hey, diverse advisory committee what do you think of this literature? Scrutinize us! Put us under a microscope! What makes you feel icky about this language? What makes this unaccessible to you and what are your recommendations to fix that for you?”

And guess what!? We listened. Right down to the text colour and the formats. This is why we have our website in bionic text, as well as offer neurodivergent options for The Booklet and The Workbook.

We must acknowledge that the creation of this whole program and our ability to gather and learn frodiverse advisory committees was made possible through funding by SPARC (The Social Planning and Research Council of BC). It is their dedication to social justice and inclusion, equality and equity, adaptability and integrity that sparked (pun intended) our origin. We will be forever grateful for the opportunity it created for birthers everywhere, but especially for those that are falling through the gaps, by no fault of their own, created in existing services. 

After months of planning and working with our advisory members, our first meeting was held virtually on August 1st, 2023. 

Stay tuned for more content and more meetings!

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