This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2019. Spring Convocation kicked off May 10 in Truro, with Halifax ceremonies from May 27 to June 1. Read all our profiles here, and for more information visit the Convocation website.
When Brent Young pulled his father’s beat-up truck into the parking lot of the Dalhousie residence that he would soon call home, it was only the second time he had even been to Halifax. Fast forward and Brent is now graduating from medical school and will soon be making the trip to Calgary, with his husband Danny, to begin his residency in family medicine.
Originally from Cape Breton, Brent comes from an Ojibway background, and was the first person from his family to attend university, let alone medical school. Inspired by his own family doctor, Brent has seen first-hand the impact and unique insights a family physician can provide a community.
“I recall having a deep admiration for her skill, intelligence, and ability to connect with patients. I can only hope that I will become this type of inspiration for my own patients someday,” Brent says. “As a family physician, my ultimate goal is to improve access to medical education and quality health care for Indigenous communities.
A common purpose
Brent brought this passion for community and inclusion to Dalhousie and, after meeting with a group of students in his first year of studies, he recognized that they all held a wide range of interests and experiences. The culmination of this meeting was the founding of the Student Diversity and Inclusion Committee (SDIC), which has developed a Terms of Reference to guide their work and provide a form of institutional memory for future students. With a common purpose, they were able to better organize and support each other in their efforts.
Brent is the first to admit that the wheels of change can move slowly, but is proud to point out the progress Dalhousie is making.
“One example that stands out to me has been the university’s effort to provide space to Indigenous students,” Brent explains. “We now have multiple spaces across campus where we can smudge alone and as a community. The new and improved Indigenous Student Centre is another example of the university reaching out to our community.”
Brent’s efforts, and the accomplishments of the SDIC, have not gone unnoticed. He was awarded a Dalhousie Impact Award, Certificate of Distinction last October. This award recognizes a student who demonstrated above-average contributions to campus life over the course of their university career.
“As anyone who has done any advocacy work knows, it can be very rewarding but sometimes pretty thankless,” says Brent. “The Impact Award came at a time when we were seeing many changes through the SDIC as well as the Dalhousie Indigenous Students’ Collective, and it felt awesome to have this work recognized.”
Although his time at Dalhousie is coming to an end, Brent understands that his advocacy work is not.
“It would be a detriment to our profession and our patients if we failed to prioritize diversity and inclusion,” Brent explains. “As a profession, we have a duty to address disparities in access to medical education and quality health care for marginalized populations.”
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