Angus MacPherson introduced our speakers.  Heather Burkett and Mitra Ashemi  who have established ORCA, Oral Care for Children and Adolescents. 

Heather is a retired school principal and Mitra is her dentist.  Heather related an experience she remembers when she was in Winnipeg and a Rotary club helped to rebuild a school library.  While working in Saanich School district she encountered a boy with severe behavioral problems.  He had broken a door and a window and nobody could control him.  She got him into a special program but nobody could get him to talk or even open his mouth.  Eventually they discovered that his entire mouth was black. A social worker tried for weeks to get him in to see a dentist but was unsuccessful because of the extent of the work needed.  Finally a dentist was found who was willing to do it as his final contribution before retiring.  The boy's mother was working very hard to make ends meet but could not afford dental care.  That boy is now in grade 12 and is a model citizen, expected to go on on to post-secondary education.

Mitra saw a lot of poverty in Iran but was surprised in Canada to have a teen patient who asked to have his two front teeth removed.  Mitra offered instead to fix his teeth and let him pay when he was able. 

These experiences inspired the two women to establish ORCA. They found that over 50,000 people on Vancouver Island live in poverty.  Sidney has its share.  There are many subsidized housing units.  It was decided to begin by setting up a dental clinic at Sidney Elementary.  They already have the space committed and the plans for the clinic to be constructed.  They have the volunteer dentists signed up and a waiting list for patients.  They will open with one chair and a small reception area but the plans allow for the addition of a second chair.  In the future they may expand the model to other schools and/or set up a portable unit. There is a great need for this clinic as KoolAid can only serve adults and most poor children go without dental care.  They have partnered with Camosun College to write a curriculum about oral health to take out to the daycares.  In the future Camosun may place practicum students at the clinic.

Maureen Duncan thanked the speakers and presented an art card and a contribution in their names to the Cridge Centre.