Setting off on a new adventure

This morning I head off to the Ontario North to explore a new part-time “job” as a clinician in a remote indigenous community.  I am feeling both excited and apprehensive.  I suspect everyone feels that at the start of a new venture.  

I remember having the same mix of emotions when I set out for post-war Bosnia in March 1998.  I ended up there, on and off, for eleven years.  I still have a great fondness for many friends there and am planning a trip back in September 2019. 

The first time I went to Africa to tend to an itinerant gaggle of McGill students was similar.  Lots of unknowns. Was I up to the responsibility?  What will transpire while I am so far from home? What cultural differences will I encounter?

I know that the only way that I can fully understand this new challenge and know if I am suited to it is to do it.  So, I am heading off to Attawapiskat, a small James Bay community on the 53rd parallel tomorrow am and will be there for the week.

It will be an adventure and if I fit with the community and vice versa it will lead to a few days each month to provide Family Medicine clinic coverage where they are short on medical staff at the moment.

I have worked and traveled in vulnerable communities before but this is different. It is Canada.  Attawapiskat has had a lot of news coverage over the past few years because of the challenges to sanitation, housing and mental health problems for the youth in the community.  

Will I fit in? Will I be able to provide the medical care required and expected by the community?  I am eager to understand and respect the cultural differences between my upbringing (as offspring of white “settlers”) and their place as aboriginal people of the land.  

I have traveled in Africa several times when I have not seen another “white” face for a week, so I am used to being in the minority. It has always been a privileged minority, however.  I have been treated with respect and welcomed.  Will it be the same in a community that has suffered losses under the governance of my ancestors?

In respect for the people there, I will not blog about any of their personal stories without explicit permission but I plan to reflect on what I learn and experience and feel myself.

Buckle up your parka. 


3 thoughts on “Setting off on a new adventure

  1. Excellent, John! Delighted to hear you have taken on this new challenge. I wish you well in Canada’s North, and will look forward to reading your blog entries.

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