A University of B.C. dentisty mission at Anaham Reserve west of Williams Lake had everyone smiling

A University of B.C. dentisty mission at Anaham Reserve west of Williams Lake had everyone smiling

Dentistry focus of four-day blitz in Anaham

They may have got more than they gave, said UBC Dean of Dentistry Dr. Charles Shuler UBC of dentistry clinic held at the Anaham Reserve.

They may have got more than they gave, said University of B.C. Dean of Dentistry Dr. Charles Shuler, referring to a recent UBC dentistry clinic held at the Anaham Reserve west of Williams Lake.

“From my perspective we did a lot of great dentistry, yet I think we might have learned more than the service we provided because we learned a lot about the area.”

The Chilcotin is far from his original home of Los Angeles, but it is a beautiful region, he said.

Between July 25 and 28, the UBC school of dentistry offered a dental mission in co-operation with the Tl’et’inqox-t’in (Anaham) government office.

A team of eight dentists, a dental hygienist, a dental assistant, two instructors, 15 students and two Rotarians travelled to Anaham, and with the help of health centre staff delivered dental care.

“It was the first time we’d been to Anaham,” Shuler said. “We’ve done clinics around the province, some in First Nations reserves on Vancouver Island and in First Nations clinics in the Downtown Eastside.”

Around 75 people of all ages from various First Nations communities attended the clinic, some returning for multiple appointments.

“It was jam-packed, even on the last day people were phoning in for appointments,” Anaham Chief Joe Alphonse said.

“People who came the first day went back home into their communities and rounded up more.”

Shuler said there was an interesting energy and enthusiasm on the part of the people from UBC and the community.

“The patients seemed to be extremely appreciative of everything. Of all the people who were there, no one left saying, ‘I hate to go to the dentist,’ they all said, ‘this was fun.’”

In more remote areas, like Anaham, distance can be a problem, he said. It’s an hour and 45 minutes from Anaham to Williams Lake, a distance people probably aren’t willing to travel unless they are in severe pain.

“I think there’s also been a historical problem with Non-Insured Health Benefits compensation. Some dentists don’t like dealing with NIHB so I think some patients don’t get accepted by dentists,” Shuler said.

The feedback from the students was extremely positive and Shuler has received e-mails from the students saying they can’t wait to go back.

One of those is fourth year student Nadine Priya KandolaListen. It was her first visit to a reserve in the Chilcotin and an opportunity she described as “once in a life time.”

Originally from Kelowna, KandolaListen has been a student leader for one of UBC’s Vancouver clinics, but had never volunteered out of Vancouver before the trip to Anaham.

“They really made an effort to welcome us and include us in their customs,” she said. “I don’t think we were all expecting that because in the past there have been a lot of people who are afraid of dentists.”

After all, when 27 dentist-types arrive in a little community, it can be intimidating,” she said. “We all became like family.”

KandolaListen will graduate in 2014. Due to her experience at the Anaham clinic she’s inspired to go north for at least a year to work in a community where there is no dentist.

“Being on these trips you really see the need in some areas,” she said.

Recently retired Williams Lake dentist Christine Constabel and Williams Lake dentist Hannah Tsao were also part of the team.

Constabel said she “poked her nose” into the project early along and ended up being a substitute team leader.

Constabel credited the blitz’s success to the work the First Nations community did with bringing patients to the health centre for appointments.

“We were there at 8:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and had three people there waiting for us on Saturday morning,” Constabel said.

The visitors also gained cultural experience.

They toured fishing sites at Farwell Canyon, saw the Woman Who Turned to Stone, and participated in traditional games.

“I had never seen the Woman Who Turned To Stone before,” Constabel said.

“It’s a natural sculpture along the Chilcotin River. It’s a very beautiful site and we enjoyed seeing it.”

They also participated in a sweat lodge on Saturday evening and it was a first for everyone, Shuler said.

When the Anaham health centre was first built, the community had no funding for a dentist, yet went ahead and included a state-of-the-art dentist office, hoping in the future they might be able to offer dentistry, Alphonse explained.

That has been realized partly with the recent addition of Dr. Nick Girn, who through Health Canada delivers a dentistry clinic in Anaham every other week.

It was Girn’s clinic that first inspired Constabel to question the need for the blitz, but she heard loudly from the Anaham band there are more patients than Girn can accommodate.

“I connected with Dr. Grin afterwards to let him know who we had seen that might come for follow up because we didn’t finish the work,” Constabel said.

“I also wanted to tell him we’d used up the large sized gloves in the clinic.”

To augment the existing dentistry office, UBC brought five portable dental units and portable dentals chairs and instruments.

Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake grants officer Shirley-Pat Chamberlain, who participated on behalf of the Rotary Club of Williams Lake Daybreak, said she hoped the relationship with UBC’s School of Dentistry continues to grow.

“Interested individuals can start their pre-dental studies locally with a savings of almost $10,000 in comparison to cost in the lower mainland. These credits would then be transferable to the programs offered by the UBC School of Dentistry,” Chamberlain said.

Dr. Evan Wiens, who graduated from the school in 2012, helped organize the Anaham clinic.

Comparing it to other clinics, he said the response from Anaham was very warm, which helped make the clinic excellent.

“I would love to come back there next year,” he said.

A measure of the clinic’s success is the fact they were able to offer $18,000 worth of dentistry for free, Wiens said.

“It’s not to highlight the money so much as to show that even a weekend can make a difference.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

The OT Timber Frames Ltd. crew of Wacey MacDonald (from left), Sean Empey, Josh Douglas, Kurt Leuenberger, Ruedi Baumann, Simon Gansner, Annie Murray (in front) and Josie the dog stand in front of a newly constructed timber frame outdoor classroom for the 150 Mile House Elementary School. (Photo submitted)
The Fox Mountain Trail Network will undergo a significant machine- and hand-built upgrade thanks to a $253,000 grant from the province’s Rural Economic Recovery program. (Scott Horley photo)
Major Fox Mountain bike trail upgrade project slated to begin this May

A machine-built downhill trail, along with an improved uphill route, are part of the project

Four projects in Williams Lake have received Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program funding. (City of Williams Lake photo)
$1.35 million CERIP funds going to projects in Williams Lake

Mayor Walt Cobb thanked the province for its investment in the community

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
B.C. dentists and bus drivers want newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Most Read