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Exchanging knowledge in Canada

Following the workshop, Bonny took some time off to explore the beauty of the Rocky Mountains

In early July, thanks to the Canadian based organisation Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB), AMRRIC's Project Officer Dr Bonny Cumming flew to Vancouver to meet with VWB's staff, board and stakeholders, and present about AMRRIC's history, role and work within Australian remote Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities. 

In Canada, like Australia, remoteness, histories of colonisation, and cultural differences have contributed to present-day health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Just as in Australia, limited access to veterinary services in remote areas of Canada also result in a suite of challenges associated with companion animal populations, and these challenges impact upon animal, human and environmental health and wellbeing.

While VWB already coordinate a number of fantastic One Health focused international projects, they recognise the benefits of AMRRIC's role and approach within the Australian context. As such, VWB are interested in establishing a similar program in Canada, bringing together the knowledge and experience of the various veterinarians and universities already delivering services to remote Canadian communities.

Among other workshop attendees, Bonny was privileged to meet two community representatives from remote communities in the North West Territories, who shared their perspectives on the history and cultural significance of dogs to their communities, as well as the need for improved veterinary service delivery.  Many of these communities are accessible only by plane or boat during summer months, with road access over the sea-ice in winter.  While sea-ice roads are fairly alien to AMRRIC and our partners, the challenges associated with providing services to communities that are so geographically isolated are very familiar.

AMRRIC is only too happy to assist VWB as they develop and implement their plan to improve veterinary service access in Northern Canadian communities. Despite the climatic, cultural and continental differences, the parallels between remote veterinary service provision in our respective countries are astonishing. Knowledge sharing is also always a two way street; we've already learnt a great amount, and look forward to continuing to learn from our Canadian counterparts.

Big thanks to Veterinarians Without Borders for inviting and so generously hosting Bonny while in Vancouver. We hope to repay the hospitality in the future!

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