To the members of BCDHA,
To begin, I would like to acknowledge that I am writing to you from the traditional territories of the Lekwungen people where I have had the distinct pleasure of living, working, and playing for the last few years; and would like to acknowledge the territories that you are currently on. I write to you one final time as I leave the BCDHA after seventeen fulfilling years on the Board where I served in different capacities. It was difficult to decide what I want to say, but ultimately, I can summarize it in four main points.
First, I want to speak to the members of BCDHA. Thank you to each and every one of you for your confidence in electing me to the Board of BCDHA, and to my fellow board members for trusting me to be the Chair of BCDHA not once, or twice but three times. It has been a sincere privilege and honour to represent all of you at this provincial table, at the national table where I also served as President of the Canadian Dental Hygienists’ Association, and at the International Federation of Dental Hygienists’ board as well. It has been an amazing experience and I will remember it for the remainder of my days. What I will treasure most is the opportunity I had to speak with so many of you and listening to your thoughts so we could move the profession forward as you envisioned it.
Second, I want to say how proud I am to be a dental hygienist. This is an amazing profession and I have a lot to be thankful for because of it. I have had the opportunity to explore many opportunities such as working in community health, a hospital, professional associations, or regulatory bodies, and to work as a contractor, researcher, educator, and administrator. It has allowed me to travel the world and meet many dental hygienists across the globe that I call my friends. It has also allowed me to be in a position to initiate change and to watch our profession grow and mature. It has given me a richness of experience and professional growth that would not have been possible otherwise. For those of you sitting at home that sometimes think you would be interested in doing something a little bit different, or to contribute to your profession on a larger scale, please consider putting your name forward to be on the BCDHA Board. It is an experience unlike any other and I promise you will not regret it!
Third, I want to say how proud I am of the accomplishments of the BCDHA. When I look back to the barriers facing dental hygienists when I joined 17 years ago, it seemed like a daunting task to get to where we should be. During my time on the board, we have steadily made progress, albeit sometimes slowly. Now, because of BCDHA’s lobbying, we can practice independently, insurance companies are increasingly paying dental hygienists directly, and the public and government’s recognition of dental hygienists has grown. As well, we have continued to increase access to care for British Columbians, which began with being able to work in residential care, then Assisted Living, and last year we removed the final barrier by abolishing the 365 Day Rule – yes! During this time, we have also gained recognition as THE oral health care promotion and disease prevention profession from other healthcare providers and are regularly asked to be at the decision-making tables. All of this happened because YOU, as members, dreamed the dream and shared it so BCDHA could continue to advocate on your behalf to make it a reality. It is satisfying to leave the Board when we have accomplished the big dreams, we had for our profession 20 years ago. The question I would have for all of you now is: Where do you want to go next? What goals do you have for our profession? What is your vision for dental hygiene for the next 10 or 20 years? I welcome you to share it with the new BCDHA so we can make it so.
Last, I will leave you with my dream for the future of dental hygiene. I write this with a heavy heart as we learned recently of the remains of 215 Indigenous children near Kamloops, and the family that was struck down in Ontario because of their Islamic faith. My dream for the future of dental hygiene is that every public member, especially the vulnerable, disfranchised, marginalized, and victimized people of all faiths recognize the dental hygiene profession as the leader in providing judgment-free, culturally safe, trauma-informed, competent care that is free of racism and discrimination. To be treated with kindness, dignity, and respect is a basic human right we are all deserving of.
Always yours in service,
BCDHA Board of Directors 2003-2017
BCDHA Chair 2020-2021, 2013, 2005-2007