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‘Indspiring’ youth

A Q&A with alumnus and Indspire Youth Laureate Thomas Dymond

Part of a special feature celebrating and recognizing the contribution and impact of Aboriginal Peoples in N.L. and highlighting contemporary topics and opportunities related to Indigenous Peoples worldwide. This theme coincides with Aboriginal Peoples Week 2017: Building Reconciliation taking place at Memorial from March 20-24.

By Lisa Pendergast

Diamonds are created under pressure, and this Dymond is no exception.

Thomas Dymond, B.Kin.’14, M.Sc.’16, has been named an Indspire Youth Laureate. Indspire is a charitable organization that invests in the education of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The Indspire Awards recognize Indigenous professionals and youth who have demonstrated outstanding achievements and act as role models for Indigenous youth.

With his experience as the Aboriginal students’ representative with the Memorial University Student Union, youth representative at the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre, an employee with the Canadian Coast Guard and as a full-time student, Mr. Dymond has exemplified what it means to be an Indspire Youth Laureate.

Mr. Dymond shared his story with Gazette contributor Lisa Pendergast.

LP: Can you tell me a little about your background? Where is your hometown?

TD: I am a Mi’kmaw man and a member of Bear River First Nation in Nova Scotia. I was born into a military family in Comox, B.C. I moved to Berwick, N.S., when I was five years old and lived there until I came to Memorial when I was 17. I am now living in Kingston, Ont., while attending Queen’s School of Medicine.

LP: Why did you decide to come to Memorial University?

TD: I came to Memorial to attend the Marine Institute. I was interested in their naval architecture program. However, I had always wanted to go into medical school and didn’t think I would get the foundations in science to go into medicine with that program. I decided to switch to the St. John’s campus to take biochemistry. My naïve 17-year-old mind thought that subject was what all doctors studied. But I hated chemistry. I experimented with many courses including psychology, physics, earth sciences, kinesiology and math. I ultimately ended up in kinesiology and just took an extra semester to finish my degree.

I also came to Memorial University because my dad is from Newfoundland and Labrador and I wanted to spend some time with my dad’s family.

LP: After you completed your bachelor of kinesiology, you decided to pursue a master of science in kinesiology. What was the focus of your master’s degree?

TD: In my master’s degree I focused on the musculoskeletal fitness and body composition of Newfoundland and Labrador offshore oil and gas workers. I was essentially looking to compare this population to that of the Canadian norms and talked about how physical fitness may play a role in the safety of this population.

LP: You mentioned you had always wanted to go to medical school. Why was that? How did your research in kinesiology contribute to that goal?

TD: In Grade 11 I became a first responder and realized I had an interest in urgent care. I never thought medicine would pan out for me, but I maintained my involvement as a first responder.
Throughout my time in university, I worked for the Canadian Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Boat Program, and the medical training we received only further emphasized my passion for medicine.

While completing my undergrad in kinesiology, I recognized the benefits of physical activity and I spent a significant portion of my time volunteering and working to promote physical wellness. I feel that medicine will be complemented well by my experiences in the Coast Guard and as a kinesiologist.

LP: What was your most memorable experience at Memorial?

TD: I think my most memorable experience at Memorial was my time as the Aboriginal student’s representative. The position allowed me to learn so much about myself and my culture, and allowed me to share that knowledge with other students, staff, and faculty.

Thomas Dymond at a Suncor Youth Luncheon.
Thomas Dymond at a Suncor Youth Luncheon.

This position also led me to sit in national meetings with the Canadian Federation of Students, speak at numerous events on campus, including Sisters in Spirit, Know the Truth: Injustice and Indigenous Women in Canada, and many Aboriginal Diversity Sharing Events co-ordinated by Memorial’s Aboriginal Resource Office.

LP: Congratulations on your Indspire Award! How did it feel to be named an Indspire Youth Laureate?

TD: Overwhelming! I now feel like I have some level of expectation to live up to as a role model. It’s also an amazing feeling, knowing now that I have a strong voice — one that will be heard. And now, I can use this voice to advocate for change and share my life experiences in the hopes that I will inspire someone to pursue their passion, persevere through a difficult time or recognize their own identity and self-worth.

Following the awards ceremony, I had many people approach me to tell me personal stories about their own struggles, and it was very uplifting to know I could have such an impact on others just by sharing my story.

For additional information about Mr. Dymond, Indspire and the Indspire awards, please visit the Indspire website.

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