By: Brandon Parsons, Grade 12 student at J.L. Ilsley High School and Tish Sock-Sacetti, Indigenous Student Support Worker
My name is Brandon Parsons and I am a student at JL Ilsley high school. I am currently a grade 12 student. I found out about the camp through my school’s aboriginal director. At first giving up my march break didn’t seem very fun, but she convinced me to go and I do not regret it for a second. I attended the Kitpu “Eagle” Wise march break camp, it is a day camp for Indigenous youth wanting to explore and learn more about medical fields.
Personally, I find it hard to get up early, essentially if I don’t have school. To me the first day was nerve wreaking, I was so nervous. After the first day was over, I was so excited to go back, and I was actually happy to get up early. I tended to show up early to hang out with the other students before our day started. I made a lot of friends at the camp and we still text and hang out regularly. My friends and I were always excited to learn about the medical fields. Often, we had lunch and learns and people who work the regular day to day medical jobs came in and talked to us. I really liked that it was more of conversation rather than just a presentation. We also talked to students and teachers of the medical programs at Dalhousie University. It was really cool hearing the perspective of the students considering that’s where we wanted to end up.
My favourite part of the camp was shadowing the dental students while they had actual patients in and getting work done. I enjoyed seeing the work from the class room put into actual use in the real world. The camp isn’t just presentations and watching, there is a lot of hands on activities to do which my friends absolutely loved.
The Indigenous Health program manager for the Faculty of Medicine is Joe MacEachern and he is the Kitpu Wise camp leader. In the camp we learned about a lot of different Health Science programs but not what Joe did as a job. This was something that really interested me. Joe MacEachern stayed in touch with me offering me advice and support as I was planning my future studies, and when the opportunity came up through the co-op program in my school, I reached out to him about doing my co-op with him at his office. He was very receptive to the idea and I am currently exploring what he does on a day to day basis. One of our main goals while working with him is the planning of the camps and making them even more amazing then they are already. It has been interesting to see how the feedback we supplied in our reviews of the camp are now creating new opportunities for the next group of students that will attend in 2019.
To wrap this up, I loved everything about the camp from the opportunity to learn and the friends I made. I am really excited to go back next year.
As an Indigenous Student Support Worker for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education I have helped several students attend the Dalhousie Health Sciences Camp programs. My students have really loved their experience at the camps. The students who had the privilege to participate in camps, especially the March Break camp Kitpu Wise, couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful it was. The students were exposed to many medical careers and it opened their eyes to possibilities for a future some never considered could be theirs. My students enjoyed meeting the various health professionals and taking part in all the exercises. The participants really enjoyed the hands-on activities and job shadowing. Many felt the cultural component to the camp was extremely important and one of their favourite parts. Everyone who took part in last year’s camp cannot wait to return and they are always encouraging other students to apply.
I truly believe that the value of this camp is immeasurable. The support provided by Joe MacEachern, the program manager, to help increase accessibility for my students was amazing. There were several barriers identified, such as transportation and food, that would have prevented many students from ever experiencing an opportunity like this but the program manager was there to help address these issues a manner that was amazing. All week I kept receiving extremely positive updates from my students about camp. Their calls and texts were full of, ” Tish, guess what we did!” “Tish, do you know what I can do!” ” Tish, what courses will I need to take to become…” ” Tish, do you know what I found out..”……… The confidence of my students was bolstered, and the camp helped to reinforce that they can have the future they want instead of one chosen for them by circumstance. The students still speak extremely highly of Joe and the continued support from Joe has been sincerely appreciated. Everyone is looking forward to camp this March Break.
To learn more about programs for Indigenous youth please visit the Global Health Office website.