OTTAWA, ON (November 1, 2022) - Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (VWB) is thrilled to announce the launch of our new Access to Care Awards program, which will provide scholarships and bursaries to individuals residing throughout Canada’s North who are pursuing educational opportunities related to animal health and wellness. Applications will be accepted from November 1, 2022, to January 15, 2023, and award recipients will be announced in March 2023. The program is open any applicants living in the territories, with priority given to Indigenous applicants. Awards include one $10,000 scholarship for a veterinary school student, five $5,000 bursaries for individuals pursuing animal and One Health-related diplomas or certificates, pet first aid courses for members of remote northern communities where VWB runs temporary remote clinics, and an online career fair for high school students to promote opportunities in the animal health sector.
“We are so excited to launch the Access to Care Awards program and support individuals across Canada’s North who are interested in pursuing animal health,” said Marieke van der Velden, Northern Canada Program Manager at VWB. “As part of our Northern Animal Health Initiative, which aims to create sustainable and community-driven access to animal care in remote northern communities, these awards will increase local animal health knowledge and capacity,” said van der Velden. “Our goal is to enable further access to care across the North and ensure that all animals and communities can access the support they need, when they need it,” she added.
"The Access to Care program will be a huge benefit to a remote community like Wrigley," said Jocelyn Skeard, a VWB community liaison in Pehdzeh Ki First Nation (Wrigley), NT, where VWB recently completed a fourth remote veterinary clinic, as part of its Northern Animal Health Initiative. "It's a small community of 150 residents," said Skeard, adding: "With the closest veterinary care being in Yellowknife, almost 850 km away, this program can provide members of our community with pet first aid and other valuable pet health and care knowledge to provide for animals in need. With the ability to access the program, we are able to build our community capacity, provide members with adequate pet first aid knowledge, and educate the community on the importance of animal health. Healthy animals equal healthy communities!"
In addition to scholarships and bursaries, the program offers an opportunity for residents of remote communities throughout the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to take pet first aid courses and online career fair sessions. The career fairs – designed for teachers and students – will help guide students who are interested in working with animals. Speakers at these sessions will range from veterinarians to biologists, dog trainers, and more, with the goal of giving students information about the wide range of career paths available to them when it comes to turning their love for animals into a career.
“During our northern clinics, we often meet young people who have never interacted with a veterinarian before and are quite curious about their work,” said van der Velden. “We know how important it is that youth and teachers have access to people who are already working in animal health fields, and can provide some guidance in pursuing similar careers,” she added. “We’re thrilled to be able to give them these opportunities.”
About Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières
Using a One Health approach, Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB) works for, and with, communities in need to foster the health of animals, people and the environments that sustain us. VWB works in Africa and Asia to improve the living conditions of the most disadvantaged rural populations through veterinary and agricultural services, sustainable animal production, training, value chain development and sustainable natural resource management. Additionally, we support remote Northern Canadian communities to improve animal health through temporary spay and neuter clinics, reduce the spread of rabies, and work to create the conditions for long-term, community-led sustainable animal health services.
About the Northern Health Animal Initiative
The Northern Animal Health Initiative is focused on improving animal health in the Canadian North by providing services and resources to build capacity in underserved communities in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Veterinarians without Borders develops partnerships with remote communities in the Canadian territories upon their invitation. We work with them to identify needs and build a plan with community representatives to build local capacity to address animal care needs year-round. This includes offering temporary veterinary clinics with a team of volunteers. Our aim is to build a sustainable framework that will create the conditions for lasting, community-driven animal health.
Learn more at vetswithoutborders.ca