/First baby in Canada welcomed by local family
Kiernan Shivji Martell was born at 12:00 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2024, making him the first baby born in Canada. His mother, Nadia, is from Haliburton, and currently resides in Halifax. /photo submitted

First baby in Canada welcomed by local family

By Emily Stonehouse

What started as a standard New Year’s Eve for Haliburton County local Nadia Shivji, turned into an evening she will never forget. 

Shivji and her husband, Jake Martell, currently reside in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The couple met when Shivji moved to the East Coast to pursue her law degree at Dalhousie University, and fell in love with the small-town feel of the maritime city. “It’s a lot like Haliburton,” said Shivji. “I love how you go to the grocery store, and bump into people you know all the time.” 

Shivji works for the Dalhousie legal aid services, and at the beginning of the month, was winding down her work as she prepared for her first child, scheduled to be born on Jan. 29, 2024. 

But on the evening of December 31, as she was sitting on her couch and finalizing New Year’s Eve plans with friends, everything changed. 

“I stood up from the couch, and suddenly, my water broke,” she said. “I kept thinking, no this isn’t real yet.” 

The young couple planned on popping into the hospital, just to get checked out quickly before resuming their plans for the evening. “Jake asked if we should pack the car seat, and I laughed because I was sure it wasn’t real, but once we got to the hospital, it became pretty real pretty fast.”

Upon arrival, Shivji was admitted immediately to prepare for birth. At this time, it was about three hours before midnight, and everyone involved started looking at the clock. 

“We all started to wonder, is he going to be a 2023 baby or a 2024 baby?” Shivji recalled. 

She actively recalls being mindful of the timing throughout her labour, as the excitement continued to build. 

After three hours of pushing, Keirnan Shivji Martell was born at exactly 12:00 a.m., on January 1, 2024. This made him the first known baby born this year in Canada. 

“The doctors and the nurses were all pretty excited about that,” said Shivji. “The one doctor said that he will be a good hockey player one day,” she laughed. 

And despite being born ahead of schedule, little Kiernan was a comfortable five pounds, 13 ounces, allowing Shivji and Martell to return home, and find their new routine as a family of three. 

Shivji noted that her mom, Rosemary, was able to change tickets to an earlier flight than the one planned for the end of the month, and has been out with the couple through these early stages. She is also grateful for the immense support of her friends and work colleagues, who have risen to the occasion with the early arrival, and provided helping hands every step of the way. 

Now, as the buzz of the first baby settles, Shivji looks forward to leaning into her new role as mother in every capacity. “It’s just been so awesome,” she reflected. “It’s still so surreal that he’s here, and that he’s ours.”