Our Women in STEM feature this week presents Dr. Nadine Caron, Canada’s first female First Nations surgeon. She graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC) medical school at the top of her class and naturally became an inspiration to many girls (in particular First Nation girls) as Canada’s first First Nations female general surgeon.
In an interview she gave to CBC Radio on June 2016, Caron said that she is optimistic about the future of Indigenous health care in Canada, although there are still many challenges to overcome.
Dr. Caron faced many trials during her journey, not only for being a woman but also for being an Indigenous person. She indicated she experienced prevalent racism in the medical environment. “I remember this one time, it was many years ago … And a surgeon came in. And he … had just finished a long case. And he sat down and was like, ‘phew, if I never operate on another Indian it’ll be too soon’,” Dr. Caron said.
Despite the challenging atmosphere that First Nation professionals still experience in some places, there are positive initiatives being implemented in Canada. An example of this is the training in cultural competency and cultural safety for medical students that UBC has mandated as part of their curriculum. Moreover, other positive initiatives as proposed by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission included recommendations regarding Indigenous health care while respecting and including traditional healing practices. Dr. Caron believes the traditional Indigenous healing practices and Western medicine can work in collaboration.
Canadian youth need more role models like Dr. Caron to inspire them to pursue their dreams and overcome obstacles they encounter during their journey. By overcoming them girls will make history – just like Dr. Caron!
Do you know a woman in STEM that inspires you? Someone you would like to learn more about along her path to success? Share with us on our Facebook page or e-mail us. We would love to write a post about them!
Check out our blog to see more inspiring STEM champions!