MD Program, University of Alberta
My name is Brittany Schroeder, I am a proud Métis woman and descendant of Marie Parenteau and Gabrielle Riguedell from Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. I was born and raised in unceded Syilx/Okanagan Territory (also known as Vernon, BC). I am a member of Métis Nation BC, my local Vernon and District Métis Association (VDMA) and Kelowna Métis Community. I am a first-year medical student from the University of Alberta. As a visitor to the Treaty 6 territory, I feel a sense of belonging because of the Indigenous Health Initiatives Program (IHIP), and their commitment to promoting interest, advocacy, and education in Indigenous health at the University of Alberta. I hope to support and mentor future students starting their own journey on the path to medicine as IHIP has done for me.
After high school, I attended the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) Campus to complete a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I was employed with the Kelowna Métis Association where I worked hard to preserve the Métis culture. I made sure that our people within the community were able to learn about culture, language, heritage, and have access to cultural events and information.
I was proud to be the elected youth representative for the VDMA for over 6 years. I also sat on the VDMA Board of Directors as the treasurer. Some of my responsibilities included helping to organize and facilitate community functions such as the Métis Youth Amazing Race. My favourite group is the Métis Women’s Circle because this is where I facilitate cultural sharing with other members of my community through our art. The Métis are known for their floral beadwork, so I continue this tradition by creating leather beadwork and regalia in my spare time. I always look forward to bringing the women of the community together to teach these skills and build community togetherness.
Aside from traditional art, family relationships are very important to me. I completed a training program on how to start and maintain positive relationships within families. I worked with the Peetigway Famii Program, which provides outreach, family support, advocacy, and child development and prevention services to Aboriginal families with children 0-6 years. Furthermore, I helped with Nobody’s Perfect, a traditional parenting program designed to meet the needs of parents who are young, single, socially or geographically isolated, or who have low income or limited formal education. I worked closely with high-risk Aboriginal families and learned about our many Nation’s unique needs. Whether it be emotionally, by providing non-judgemental listening, support and intervention on the Crisis Line, or physically, by helping a single mother with her crying baby at Peetigway, I try to support those around me.
Outside of my Métis cultural work I am actively involved in athletics. I was awarded MVP honours in hockey, volleyball and soccer including the Greater Vernon Minor Hockey Most Valuable Female athlete in 2006 and the 2009 Tom Longboat Award recipient for top Aboriginal female athlete in BC. For four seasons I led my hockey team as an Assistant Captain and even won the Provincial Championships (2003). I later had the opportunity to captain when we won silver in the Provincial Championships (2005). I have represented BC on multiple stages including the 2008 BC Winter Games, the U18 BC Cup, and Team BC Provincial Camp to tryout to participate at the Women’s National Under 18 Championships.
My commitment to the Aboriginal community and my love for athletics eventually came full circle. I have a special interest in Aboriginal athletics and sports medicine. I have obtained a level two National Certified Coaching certificate and coached three years with the North Okanagan Youth Soccer Association. In 2013, I was the U15 female Interior Region head coach for the BC Aboriginal Provincial Soccer Championships. I was the junior instructor at the Vernon Minor Hockey summer camp (x3 years), the assistant coach for a male midget recreation hockey team, and assisted with the Thompson Okanagan Female Midget AAA Lakers try-outs. Given my experience and qualifications, I was selected for the chaperone/co-manager position for Team BC at the 2015 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. In addition, I have my NCCP Special Olympic coaching certification and assisted with the Special Olympics floor hockey and soccer teams.
Given my extensive background in Aboriginal athletics, I have a career interest in Sports Medicine and want to continue my role as an Aboriginal coach throughout my medical career. Upon completing my training, I hope to take a leadership role in Aboriginal Health in Canada, and provide policy direction regarding Aboriginal Athletics. I want to serve as a role model for Aboriginal youth and help advocate students the importance of leading healthy active lives- mentally, spiritually and physically.
In addition to Sports Medicine, I also have a career interest in family medicine with a focus in women’s health. I hope to set up practice close to home in an underserved community within the Okanagan and work with Indigenous families and communities. My community has given me so much and it is very important to me to be able to give back to them. I aspire to become a family physician and provide the healthcare that the people in my community need and deserve.
It is important to note a personal experience that has helped to prepare me for a career in medicine. My grandfather was diagnosed with a disabling case of Multiple Sclerosis and my grandmother was simultaneously diagnosed with breast cancer. I have experienced the confusion, pain and stress of being a family member of the patient. This experience has catalyzed my desire to be a part of the healthcare field and to help those patients and families in need. I began volunteering at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital as a youth health care worker; this position enabled me to gain a deeper respect and understanding of the medical profession and the importance of the physicians’ work. I am truly impressed by the variety of skills that a physician brings to their professional role: knowledge, strength, compassion and diversity. I believe I bring the elements of cultural competency and humility, and devotion to Indigenous Peoples to continue to improve the level of professionalism within the medical field. I want to see healthy, vibrant, and empowered Nations. I would be proud to contribute to this vision.