New partnership aims to improve access to care

The School of Dentistry is very happy and proud to announce its officially partnering with the Métis Nation of Alberta.

30 November 2020

With a common goal of improving access to oral care, the School of Dentistry is proud to announce its official partnership with the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA).

As one of Canada’s three constitutionally recognized Indigenous peoples, the Métis have vibrant and unique culture full of strength and resiliency. Despite this, studies have revealed oral health inequities amongst Indigenous populations, which includes the Métis, in Canada. Financial burdens, lack of services available in rural and remote areas, and access to culturally safe or appropriate care have been identified as some of the significant barriers to accessing oral care.

With these identifiers at the forefront, the school has been provided with  an opportunity to not only offer a much-needed service to this community but to learn more about the culture, history and contributions of Métis people.

This partnership with the school is grounded directly in community experiences from two of its own members - alumnus Paulette Dahlseide (DH '94) and Dr. Suzy Depledge.

"An amazing Métis dental hygienist, Paulette Dahlseide was providing mobile assessments and care to our Métis community. We connected at our annual health forum and her passion was inspiring. Almost in that exact time frame Dr. Depledge reached out. So, it was truly the passion of two Métis oral health professionals who began this partnership which I was happy to facilitate based on the voice and needs of our community," says Reagan Bartel, health director for the MNA and University of Alberta alumnus (MPH ’19; BScN ’04).

For the MNA, Bartel explained this partnership will provide Métis Albertans with safe and high quality affordable oral health care and ensure that dental and dental hygiene students have an opportunity to gain an understanding of how to provide culturally appropriate patient centered care for one of Canada’s often invisible Indigenous peoples – The Métis.

"The ultimate goal is to strengthen the oral health of Métis Albertans establishing trust and the development of oral health professionals who have had a chance to connect with the Métis community," she says. "To do this we will continue to look for mutual opportunities of learning and growth."

These opportunities can include cultural presentations, development of resources, and identifying opportunities to enter the Métis community through clinics and events says Bartel.

Depledge was key to the formation of this partnership and is particularly proud for two reasons: it took her on her own journey of discovering her Métis heritage and that she is the Global Oral Health Coordinator for the School of Dentistry and is familiar with bringing services into communities.

"It's been a pleasure to work with the MNA to build our partnership. Through trust and a strong relationship, we have formed a great connection between the university dental students and the MNA," says Depledge. "It is our privilege to serve the dental needs of the Metis Nation of Alberta. " We hope our faculty, staff and students will all be able to share in an understanding of the Metis culture."