New Camp Reaches Indigenous High School Students

Dalhousie University’s Indigenous Health Program works with school boards and organizations (including the Johnson Scholarship Foundation) to increase recruitment and retention of Indigenous students into medicine. As part of the program, the first Kitpu Wise camp was offered this spring in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Students gained experience in the medical field during the Kitpu Wise camp. Photo courtesy of Dalhousie University.

The camp focused on learning about health careers and postsecondary life while meeting new friends and having fun. Students aged 15-18 spent a week on campus receiving hands-on exposure to clinical health education programs and cultural experiences.

The students also met the incoming Dalhousie University student union president who is the first Indigenous (Mi’kmaq) student to hold this position. In addition, the students presented handmade drums to the Deans of Medicine, Dentistry and Health.

Here is what student Kayla Steeves had to say about the week she spent learning about health:

In March 2018, I spent a week in Halifax attending the Kitpu Wise camp. It was one of the most influential and fun encounters that I have had the pleasure of experiencing as a high school student. I met a wonderful group of students and faculty, participated in intriguing activities, and learned amazing things.

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Students also enjoyed cultural experiences, such as making drums using traditional methods. Photo courtesy of Dalhousie University.

Throughout the week, we did activities that taught us more about our Indigenous heritage, as well as aspects of the medical field. We made drums, shadowed a dentist during a real appointment with a patient, filled a cavity on false teeth in the dental simulation lab, as well as completed a certified first aid course.

My personal favorite activity was shadowing a last year dental student. I observed the interactions between a physician and patient, as well as viewed the techniques used to solve the issue. It was a different and fascinating view into what a job in the medical field would look like.

The information I have taken away from attending Kitpu Wise are resources and facts that I will forever hold onto. I cannot thank enough the brilliant people who put this program together for the knowledge and opportunities they have gifted me.

Kayla Steeves is a grade 12 student who participated in the Kitpu Wise camp in Halifax, Nova Scotia, during her March break. She will be joining Dalhousie University in September 2018.

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