General · 10th April 2012
Emma Gilchrist / Dogwood
Editor's note: Welcome to Local Heroes, a new theme offered by the Gumboot honouring people who go out of their way to put good energy into a world that sure could use some! To kick off, we reprint an article by Emma Gilchrist from the Dogwood Initiative's Blogwood:
This note from Kathryn Wills caught our attention early this year and really inspired us:
"Apparently, I am a radical. I am a Canadian, a proud B.C. resident and a medical student. I am currently thousands of dollars in debt so that I can achieve my dream of being a rural family doctor and bring medical care to the underserved areas of our province.
"However, something worries me more than the pressing need for rural doctors in Canada or my ability to pay my bills — it is the Northern Gateway pipeline and the proposal to put supertankers on our coast. That is why I would like to donate the scholarship money I received this year to your initiative. I know it’s not much, and I would give more if I could. I love what you are doing for our province."
We love what Kathryn is doing for our province, so we caught up with her to find out more. As it turns out, Kathryn has become rather well acquainted with communities along Enbridge’s proposed pipeline route during the last couple of years. In Sept. 2010, she moved to Prince George to study medicine through the UBC’s satellite program.
‘How can I not be an advocate for what is best for their health?’
“I’ve really grown to love the north,” Kathryn says over the phone from Fort St. John, where she’s currently completing a clinical training year.
The third-year med school student can see herself working in any number of the coastal communities that could be affected by tanker traffic.
“There’s something to be said about how it would affect the Coastal First Nations and all the communities along the pipeline route,” she says. “I think about going into these communities and being a family doctor and think: ‘How can I not be an advocate for what is best for their health?’ ”
Kathryn first heard about Enbridge’s tankers and pipeline proposal while she was living in Prince George, but at first didn’t think anything could be done to stop it. “Last November I watched Spoil (a documentary on the Great Bear Rainforest) and realized this was an ongoing battle,” she says.
The Vancouver native has always loved B.C.’s coast, but a trip to Haida Gwaii last summer heightened her awareness of what’s at stake.
“I think about tankers going right by there and what could be lost is mindblowing,” she says. Lately, the issue has been on her mind more than usual. “I’ve found myself not about able to think about anything but this pipeline and potential disasters. Here I should be thinking about exams, and I can’t stop thinking about this proposal.”
When an unexpected scholarship cheque for $500 arrived in the mail this January, she gave the whole thing to Dogwood Initiative. “I just thought: I would’ve got by without it, so why not give what I can.”
A heartfelt thanks to Kathryn and all of our donors for helping Dogwood Initiative continue to stand up for B.C.