Dahlseide research to help break barriers to access for oral health care

First dental hygiene graduate student to receive AGES Indigenous award

Tarwinder Rai - 30 November 2020

The decision to come back to graduate school didn't come lightly. After running a successful mobile dental hygiene clinic since 2010, Paulette Dahlseide (DH '94) says the gaps in Métis-centred dental research was becoming all too apparent.

Her clinic offered services within the schools of Elizabeth and Fishing Lake Métis Settlements, Cold Lake and Frog Lake First Nations. It was here that she saw the real-life stories behind the multifaceted barriers to care for Indigenous clients first-hand, but more so, and closer to home, it was the Métis children and seniors who fell through the cracks of a broken colonial oral health care system that would bring her to tears.

Dahlseide knew she needed to help address the gaps in oral health care that traditional service delivery had missed.

"Dental hygienists have an obligation to contribute to formal and informal research that can direct future practices and models of delivery that meet the needs of all Canadians," says Dahlseide, an active citizen of the Metis Nation of Alberta. "Métis specific oral health research will inform and help guide our nation as we move towards real self government."

She'd been considering the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program since it first began in 2014, but it wasn't until remote learning became a possibility due to the global pandemic that her dream started to become a reality.

And to help her achieve her goal, Dahlseide was awarded the Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship Indigenous - becoming the first dental hygiene graduate student to receive it.

"I have many strong men and women in my family and community who have helped me get to this point," she says, adding she is honoured to be receiving this scholarship. "There are many mentors in my life who have exemplified Métis pride, strength, resilience and ingenuity and I recognize that this scholarship is very much a product of Métis advocacy by our community and its leaders."

Dahlseide will begin her graduate studies program in January 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Sharon Compton and Minn Yoon. Her research proposal is titled Examining Métis Specific Oral Healthcare Experience and Unmet Need in Alberta. Her focus will be on identifying the Metis specific experience of oral health care outcomes and barriers to care in Alberta.