Pharmacists are vital frontline health care providers in people’s lives, supporting patients with their health and wellness needs. Their work is even more essential in providing care for Indigenous peoples and their communities—with an increasing demand for Indigenous pharmacists to fill those roles.
Established in 2021, the Diane Hales Award in Pharmaceutical Sciences for Indigenous Students is the first award to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis undergraduate students in the UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
For award recipient and recent Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD’22) graduate Brett LaBossiere, it gave him confidence—and breathing room—to concentrate on his studies without financial pressure.
“Receiving the Diane Hales Award was a confidence booster for me,” says Brett. “Financially, the benefits of receiving an award during pharmacy school cannot be overstated.”
Before her passing in 2019, Diane Hales BSc(Pharm)’52 had retired to Salt Spring Island, after living in Campbell River for 24 years and practicing as a hospital pharmacist. Upon graduation, she had felt unfulfilled in her work in Vancouver. It was her pursuit for professional and personal growth that inspired her to seek training for a year in Alert Bay, where members of the ʼNamgis First Nation were among her patients.
Her brother Frederick fondly remembers Diane’s time starting out in her pharmacy career—and learning about the community in which she was providing care.
“Diane was proud of the year she worked in Alert Bay, where she learned the practical aspects of pharmacy and learned to relate to the Indigenous people there,” says Frederick. “This continued with her later work at the Campbell River Hospital and the people of the We Wai Kai Nation from Cape Mudge.”
It is with Diane’s gift-in-will that UBC Pharm Sci established this principal award. Frederick knows that his sister would be very happy that her bequest was recognized as a benefit to Indigenous students.
Brett LaBossiere looks forward to the award opening doors for aspiring Indigenous pharmacy students.
“I am excited this award has been established to support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students,” he says. “With my experiences living and working in and around Williams Lake, it is apparent that inter-generational trauma exists and creates barriers for some Indigenous students. I hope this award can help students overcome these barriers and promote leadership within the pharmacy community.”