Veronica Ells, AVC 2020, traveled to Nain and Natuashish in 2019 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing.
As a vet student travelling with the Chinook Project, I expected to learn and gain valuable skills in veterinary medicine. What I hadn’t expected, but was so grateful to find, was the relationships and bonds formed with the community members in both Nain and Natuashish. Our aim was to offer service to the entire community, not just the animals. My favourite days in the clinic were when we had a community member come in to watch what we were doing. In surgery, the eyes of adults would open wide with a childlike curiosity. The people, young and old, were so eager to learn about what we were doing and we were happy to share.
In Natuashish, a father and his two young daughters brought their puppy in to see us for vaccines. The older of the two girls was very articulate and mature for her age. Within minutes of starting the appointment she told me she wanted to be a vet and was asking me how many years of university she would need to do (this eight year old was really thinking ahead). Her younger sister watched quietly and attentively as we began their puppy’s physical exam. When it was time to listen to his heart, I let each of the girls take a turn to listen to their puppy. I put the stethoscope in their ears and their eyes lit up. Their faces were unforgettable, even the younger, quieter sister’s face broke into a big smile when she heard her puppy’s heart beat. My time with the Chinook Project taught me that giving children these experiences when they are young is so important; it gives them something to hold on to and to work towards. I know our little friend from Natuashish is going to make a great vet some day!