The Division of Community Engagement

Greg Zobell, 1st Year

Dentistry Program, University of Alberta

My name is Greg ZoBell and I am a member of the Ahtahkakoop Cree First Nation near Shell Lake, Saskatchewan of the Treaty six territory. I was born in Calgary, but grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I completed two years of education at Lakehead University in a biology-chemistry double major degree and one year at the University of Lethbridge in a biochemistry degree. I am currently in my first year of the dentistry program at the University of Alberta. Several individuals and experiences have led me to pursue a career in dentistry and to be an actively engaged member of the Indigenous community for the University of Alberta Indigenous Health Initiative.

I have an older brother who is studying Indigenous Law at the University of Calgary and a sister who is a business owner here in Edmonton. I grew up loving to play golf, basketball, and football and I also love to fish and ski. More than anything, I love to work and learn from the people around me. I feel like every person is unique and has experiences and knowledge that others may not have, and I always try to absorb that knowledge from the people I meet on a daily basis.

Growing up in Thunder Bay, I was influenced by Indigenous culture, language and history throughout my elementary and secondary schooling. I also lived in Northern Australia for a two year service mission where I met and worked with several Australian Aboriginal families and communities with regards to service and counselling. I discovered several similarities between Australian and Canadian Indigenous cultures and history, leading me to more fully desire a career that would allow me to work with Indigenous people. However, my father has been one of the key individuals who has influenced me to maintain a connection with my Indigenous heritage. My father was born to his First Nations mother of the Ahtahkakoop nation and was adopted shortly after as part of the Sixties Scoop. He currently works as the Vice President of Commercial Financial Services in Indigenous Markets over Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northern Ontario and Nunavut for RBC, based out of Winnipeg. He is actively engaged in First Nations communities throughout Canada and has raised me to always maintain values and traditions. 

I have always been interested in science and learning, and I knew Dentistry was a profession where I could work with people and continue to learn throughout my life. I also have come to learn that oral health care is limited in several isolated Indigenous communities throughout Canada leading to increased dental decay rates and increased oral disease precedence. I feel like Dentistry is a profession that allows me to fulfill my passion to learn and aid in Indigenous health. As I engaged in an Indigenous youth mentorship program at the University of Lethbridge, I discovered that being a student in the Dentistry program would provide me with a unique opportunity to help indigenous people of the future generation. I was able to spend time with and mentor Indigenous youth in the Lethbridge area and be an example to them. I saw the influence I had on their lives and it has inspired me to search out similar opportunities as a Dentistry student. My sister and mother have both worked in Dental offices and have witnessed some of the insensitivity and prejudice that can be present in the Dental community in Canada.  While here at the University of Alberta, I want to represent Indigenous people and support the education and awareness of indigenous ways of knowing for the future generation of Dental professionals. 

I also am interested in public health research with regards to Indigenous Oral Health with an emphasis on traditional medicine. I look forward to working with my colleagues of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry in discovering methods and practices that will help improve Oral health in Canada. Overall, I feel like Oral Health plays a key role in our individual wellness and happiness and our smiles can increase our self confidence and mental state! I look forward to helping people in relieving pain and improving their overall confidence!