SPOTLIGHT – Bigstone/U of A medical collaboration breaks new ground

by Joe McWilliams

Colin Siu is a University of Alberta medical student, working these days in Wabasca. He spends part of his time at the M.D.’s clinic and part working with the Bigstone Health Commission. It’s something new for all the parties involved, and it seems to be working out pretty well.
“It’s going great so far,” says Siu. “Everyone here is nice and I’ve learned a lot already.”
Part of what he’s learning comes from home visits arranged through the Bigstone Health Commission’s community health director Shelly Gladue.
“For a First Nations-run organization, it is a first,” Gladue says.
The placement came about through discussion between Gladue and Dr. Jill Konkin of the U o A’s Faculty of Medicine. Konkin sees it not only as a nice opportunity for individual medical students, but as the start of something she hopes is bigger and long-lasting between Aboriginal communities and the university.
“This is quite exciting,” she says. “To build learning opportunities for medical students is great, in a community that has a huge First Nations population.”
Konkin expects other activities in the medical arena to arise through this opening – ones she hopes will benefit the community (or communities) and the U of A.
“I’m so thankful that the Bigstone Health Commission and the community docs were willing to collaborate with us.”
Siu says on his Bigstone home visits have been as much about listening and learning as dispensing any of his own expertise.
“I’ve been talking to elders and learning about traditional healing methods,” he says, adding that although he’s the first, there will be others following.
“At least three other medical students are coming to Wabasca as well,” he says.


Pictured to the right is Medical Student Colin Siu.
Pictured to the right is Medical Student Colin Siu.

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