Grad profile: Brightening smiles in remote communities

Spring Convocation: Stacey Shiwak, Faculty of Dentistry

- May 23, 2014

Faculty of Dentistry grad Stacey Shiwak. (Danny Abriel photo)
Faculty of Dentistry grad Stacey Shiwak. (Danny Abriel photo)

Hailing from Happy Valley, Labrador, Stacey Shiwak has always loved working and living in rural communities. It’s why she plans on putting her new Doctor of Dental Surgery degree to use improving dental services for those with limited access.

In her first career, Stacey worked as a dental therapist in small Inuit communities in the Nunavut region.

“On top of running a dental clinic, I provided preventive services such as tooth brushing programs, fluoride rinse programs and dental education with the kids,” she says. “I loved what I did and I wanted to learn more.”

Stacey began her second career as a dental hygienist after earning a diploma in dental hygiene from Dalhousie. She really wanted to study dentistry but, as a single mother, it wasn’t something she could manage at the time.

But her goal remained the same, and her challenges did not stop her. She returned to work in Labrador. “There are still many communities, especially Aboriginal communities, that are underserviced,” she says.

She hopes to change that. Her goal is to have her own dental clinic in Happy Valley and to provide service to the northern communities of Labrador, an area known as Nunatsiavut.

“I want to do something good for our communities. I really enjoy giving back.” Stacey has received a return for service grant from the Nunatsiavut Government in Labrador, allowing her to live and work in the area and translate the skills she learned at Dalhousie into community programs.

“I had such an amazing experience in the hygiene program. I knew that the quality of education I was going to get would allow me to become a competent dentist [but] it has surpassed my expectations.”

This article is part of a series on our newest graduates. These profiles are also published in the 2014 Spring Convocation Keepsake, which is distributed at Convocation ceremonies. For more on Convocation (including live webcasts), visit the Convocation website.


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