“I helped provide dental care for Syrian refugees who spent two years in a refugee camp with no toothbrush. The care we provide vulnerable people is amazing.”
“My parents immigrated from Syria and Lebanon: fluoride and flossing wasn’t really taught back then. As a child, I spent hours in a dentist chair with cavities. The dental assistant was lovely, I thought, ‘I want to be like you.’ So I became a dental assistant. Eventually, I trained as a dental hygienist, earned a UBC BDSc. degree and joined geriatric dentistry in 2011.
I helped provide dental care for Syrian refugees. I’d never seen anything like it. Two years in a refugee camp with no toothbrush. One father with two girls left their house, returned and it was bombed. He lost his wife, other children, parents, brother. I still think about those girls. The care we provide vulnerable people is amazing. I’m passionate about water fluoridation: that’s true upstream care; we’d prevent many cavities. If I had that growing up, my oral health would’ve been different.
My family’s thing is ski vacations: we love the interior mountains. My son and husband ski double black diamond runs; my daughter and I ski some tough stuff ourselves. We kayak and water ski Lake Cowichan and I play field hockey and run marathons and halfs. And yes, I floss every day.”
- Karen Hopkins, Regional Dental Coordinator, Dental Program, Population and Public Health