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Chapter 3

Uqsuralik Ottokie
Sometimes other people would come and help. You wouldn’t notice who they were. They would not hesitate to give the pregnant woman instructions on how to deliver. A lot of this advice was good. The first one to touch the baby would be the sanaji. There were certain things she would do. The sanaji would bestow qualities to make sure that if it was a boy he would be an excellent hunter, and if it was a little girl, an excellent seamstress. (Page 39)
Since there was no doctor, one called for a midwife (sanaji) to help the woman in labour. Naqi notes, "The first to touch the baby would be the sanaji." (Page 39) The meaning of this first touch was very important; it is explained by the sipijuq. Indeed, sometimes a baby's gender may change right after birth, but by touching the baby's sex, one could interrupt the process. "Sometimes, we would see a small penis and it could happen that it would change into a vagina." (Page 41)

The role of the midwife did not end there. She was the one to tell the baby "of the qualities one would like him or her to have when he or she will be grown up" (Page 37) and often it was the sanaji who chooses the baby's name. The mother did not really have much to say on the matter.

Ties with the community were created at the baby's birth. Indeed, the whole of the community, elders and young, came to see the baby, to shake his or her hand and welcome him or her.