It's National Volunteer Week across Canada! This week marks an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions of volunteers across our communities, including those who have dedicated their time, knowledge, and skills to our national and global programs at Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (VWB/VSF).
Volunteers play a vital role in various sectors. They provide essential services, advocate for causes, and bring positive change to our society. National Volunteer Week highlights the impact and value of volunteerism and encourages more people to get involved in their communities. It promotes the spirit of civic engagement, social responsibility, and active citizenship, and also inspires people to collaborate, share their talents, and work towards a common goal.
To celebrate the incredible impact of VWB/VSF's volunteers, we're featuring five incredible volunteers who have made a significant impact for animals and communities.
Meet Tasha Kean-Clark, a recent volunteer at our northern clinics through our Northern Animal Health Initiative!
1. What inspired you to volunteer with VWB/VSF?
I have loved volunteering as a veterinarian since the beginning. While I've been lucky enough to volunteer away from Canada, helping here at home is always my first preference. Having volunteered in remote communities before, I was interested in learning more about how rural northern communities in Canada are coping [with a lack of access to vet care].
2. Why is supporting animal health important in Canada?
The link between animal welfare and people is very well documented. By getting to communities that have no access to routine vet care, and protecting their pets against rabies, we can help protect the entire community from a potentially fatal disease.
3. What is a favourite memory or highlight of your volunteer work?
The experience. Not many can say they've been able to fly into remote communities to provide vet care! The people are kind and giving, the animals are cute, and the scenery is mind-blowing. But, if I had to pick one highlight, it was being in Kimmirut at the school with the children who were visiting us all day long. We taught them not just about the vet medicine aspect, but also about animal care and how to read body language so that the risks of dog bites is reduced moving forward.
4. What is one important thing you learned during your volunteer placement?
The need is unbelievable. These communities have limited resources for their own care, and flying a pet south for routine care is just not a viable option, let alone dealing with emergency care. We can help them expand what they can do [by training them in emergency animal care] and [by returning to communities] to give them the support they need. The people in communities want to trust us, but so often have been let down. I don't want to be another group that doesn't continue to follow up and support them.
5. Any advice for individuals interested in becoming international development volunteers?
Expect the unexpected, go with the flow, and don't take yourself too seriously!
6. Anything else to add?
Volunteering is one of the best ways we can give back with our knowledge. Even if flying to a remote Northern community in minus twenty isn't for everyone, there are always opportunities closer to home. I encourage everyone to try it at least once, it's addictive!