By: Christina Torrealba (she/her), Graduate Student in Community Health and Epidemiology
In partnership with the Dalhousie Medical Students’ Society, the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, and the Global Health Office, the Dalhousie Medicine Global Health Initiative (GHI) organizes global health knowledge sharing events and promotes engagement in global health initiatives, both locally and abroad. The GHI team is comprised of junior and senior Dalhousie medical students who are local officers of the following areas: Global Health Liaison, Harm Reduction and Addiction Medicine, Environmental Health and Sustainability, Indigenous Health, Reproductive and Sexual Health, Newcomer Health, Global Health Advocate, Local Exchange Officer, Global Health Education, Health and Social Justice, and Global Health Outreach. Today’s installment of the GHO blog features Victoria Taylor (she/her) and Joanna Coulas (she/her) who are the Junior and Senior Local Officers of Indigenous Health at the GHI, respectively.
Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Victoria Taylor completed her undergraduate degree at Acadia University, where she studied biology and environmental sciences. Following graduation she began an MSc in biology, but soon realized that despite her passion for biology and ocean life, she was more interested in pursuing medicine. She left her master’s research and began working as a research assistant at the QEII Hospital while applying to Dalhousie Medical School. She is passionate about Indigenous Health and ensuring that medical students understand the barriers that Indigenous peoples are faced with when accessing healthcare services.
As the Junior Local Officer of Indigenous Health, Victoria is organizing the Indigenous Health Panel for medical students which will take place in January 2022, along with Joanna and the Student Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which will be their first in-person event since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. With COVID-related gathering restrictions and busy schedules, Victoria thinks that “one challenge will be brainstorming ways to encourage a larger amount of people to attend the event. With so much on the go and many events occurring throughout the year, it can be difficult to target everyone”. She is glad that students are able to have some in-person experiences this year with the reduced COVID restrictions.
Victoria says that the Dal Med Global Health Initiative has allowed her to “learn about many relevant global health issues, meet incredible people, and work on [her] leadership skills”. She is eager to attend the events organized by other GHI officers, and looks forward to the upcoming Indigenous Health Panel.
Joanna Coulas, the Senior Local Officer of Indigenous Health, has always had an interest in global health. While pursuing her undergraduate degree in psychology, Joanna was part of a research team that studied the national response – or lack thereof – to higher rates of antimicrobial resistance in Northern Indigenous communities. “When I got to Dalhousie Medicine and heard about the Global Health Initiative, particularly that there was a position focused on Indigenous health, I was excited to apply,” she says. Last year, Joanna co-organized a three-day lecture series with three speakers and a Period Product Drive for the Mi’kmaw Family Healing Centre, which provides a number of services and a safe place to stay for Indigenous women and children leaving unsafe environments.
Joanna says that aside from not being able to meet with other members of the GHI face-to-face, COVID hasn’t impacted her role very much overall. She was still able to plan great virtual events with good turnouts, but is looking forward to the upcoming in-person events that she has planned. Joanna hopes to continue her involvement in global health throughout her education and career and wants to encourage incoming medical students to consider joining the GHI. “Being involved with the Global Health Initiative has been such a positive experience. I have been able to develop my skills as a leader, learn how to plan & run events, and meet great people”, she says. To stay up to sate with the GHI, be sure to like them on Facebook.