At the end of our second clinic day in Nain, Dr. Heather Gunn McQuillan posed three simple questions to each of us to reflect on: “What was something you learned today? What was something that made you happy? What was something you were grateful for?” Immediately, my thoughts were overflowing with a million responses to each of these questions. Working a long day with my wonderful colleagues in such a welcoming community, I was full to the brim with new knowledge, happiness and gratitude. I took a thoughtful moment before responding to one of the questions.
The easiest question for me to answer was what made me happy. There was a moment during the day when our clinic was bustling with activity – surgeries in full swing, medicine appointments coming and going, dogs barking and people talking – and I was cradling a sleepy dog in my arms on our induction table. The whole world seemed to be buzzing with energy and life around me, and yet I somehow felt completely at peace; I was simply happy to stand there, holding this sweet dog, caring for him in his vulnerable state before his surgery. A moment later I was surprised to learn the dog’s name was Chinook. Delighted that I was holding a dog whose name has had such history with our Project, I asked Heather about the actual meaning of the word. She told me that a “chinook” is a warm wind that blows into the mainland from the sea. This made me smile; the name fit the dog’s personality perfectly. In the few short hours that I interacted with Chinook, he had quickly become my favourite patient. He had a warm and steady presence, just like an offshore breeze. In that moment I held Chinook close and thought to myself how lucky I was, that even in the midst of a busy day like this, I was still able to take a moment appreciate the little things.
Michelle Gorayeb, AVC 2017, traveled to Nain & Sheshatshiu in 2016 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing. This is one of Michelle’s pieces