The two weeks I spent in Northern Labrador as part of the Chinook Project were so exciting, busy, and eye-opening that sometimes describing the whirlwind of experiences is difficult. As they say “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This picture is, I think, a great description of my experience with the Chinook project.
During the trip, I sharpened my surgical skills, learned about different places and cultures, and became part of an exceptional team. There is a great need for veterinary care in these areas and, due to our limited time, our days were packed with both surgical and medical appointments. For much of the day, we completed back to back surgeries, with duties rotating between surgeon and anesthetist. Although each day was as physically and mentally demanding as the next, exhaustion was replaced with a nearly indescribable sense of contentment. This satisfaction is surely only that which can come from time spent doing what you love. I would venture to say this is the feeling that comes with doing what you are born to do.
This picture was taken on one of our last days in Sheshatshiu, where we had assembled a clinic and surgery suite in a hockey arena. It was another full spay and neuter day for our team as we tried to complete as many as possible before we had to journey back to PEI. After completing numerous surgeries that day, starting early that morning, by 5pm I was ready for a break. I gladly volunteered to sit with our patients while they were recovering from anesthesia. With our full schedule, I had forgotten to each lunch and was clearly happy to have a left-over sandwich. I like egg salad as much as the next person, but that smile doesn’t come from an old sandwich. Working in our little hockey/surgery center, using my new veterinary skills to help pets and people brought me an overwhelming sense of joy and belonging. At this moment, I felt completely at home in an otherwise foreign land. For me, the hectic days on the Chinook project was an important reminder that veterinary medicine is exactly where I need to be. Among the many lessons I learned in Labrador, I came to better understand the sense of fulfillment that comes in doing what I was made to do.
Liz Byers, AVC 2017, traveled to Nain in 2015 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 Liz’s pieces.