The formal purpose of the Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team is to partner with First Nation communities in Northern Ontario to improve community and animal welfare by assisting with sustainable humane dog population control. Spay and neuter services as well as vaccination against communicable diseases, parasite control and animal identification is provided to the dogs in these communities. The Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq team is a completely volunteer driven registered charity.
Many First Nation communities lack access to veterinary care because of geographical isolation. Also, there is a lack of education, information and initiative to seek assistance when animals on First Nation communities reach levels of overpopulation, general poor health, or aggression. To that end, many communities have resorted to shooting feral dogs, or those dogs that are deemed aggressive or un-owned. In communities where there is a higher than normal dog bite incidence and human death due to dog aggression, this has historically been the only option available. And, not only are dog culls inhumane, they do not solve the problem.
The GBAQT has developed a model whereby we first select communities to assist based on their need, and their willingness to address and to continue to address dog population control in a humane manner. Our model is geared to achieve our goals while remaining culturally sensitive and respectful to each community that we partner with.
We offer education and advice for the development of companion animal care and control within the community. On each visit to the community there is a component of education offered to the school children on topics such as dog bite prevention, and basic animal care. Assistance with dog by law development and dog control is offered.
A team of 10-12 veterinarians, veterinary technicians and assistants are assembled in order to travel to the community to conduct up to five annual veterinary clinics. Each of the veterinary team members volunteers their time and expertise. .
An annual visit to each community is planned until successful dog population control is achieved and also based upon the continued commitment of each community to our shared purposes. Further veterinary visits are made based on need for dog or animal population control as well as the support from the community and the availability of the team.
In the 9 years since we have been working with Northern Dogs and Communities, we have spayed or neutered more than 900 dogs and done wellness on over 1450 dogs. All these animals have received identification by tattoos or microchips and their individual pictures and health information has been left in the respective communities as well as a microchip scanner.
Over the years we have forged bonds and partnerships and friendships with many new people in the north. We have also seen parts of Ontario that many people do not see. We have seen the northern lights, experienced the ceremony of sweat lodges, ice fished, seen lots of bears and moose and some wolves, been smudged, driven through a snowstorm on May 24th, seen the poor housing conditions in most reserves, experienced boil water conditions, seen more ticks on dogs than we can count, been “drummed in” to welcome us and “drummed out” to say goodbye, seen pictographs, and forest fires and listened to many stories from elders about the Creator as well as Ojibway traditions.
Dr. Linda Bolton graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1984. She has lived and
practiced in the Grey Bruce area ever since. Along with Dr. Sally Parks she became the owner of
Mullen Small Animal Clinic in 1993. She lives in the country with her husband, Russ, and a
plethora of dogs and pet chickens, turkeys and geese.
Dr. Bolton is currently the Chair of the Awards Committee of the Ontario Veterinary Medical
Association, a past president of the Grey Bruce Veterinary Association, a retired St. John
Ambulance Therapy Dog Handler, and a newly retired coach for the Art of Veterinary Medicine
at the Ontario Veterinary College. She received the OVMA Award of Merit in 2009.
Once her three children grew up, Dr. Bolton found herself with time on her hands, and a love of surgery.
Apparently running a practice just wasn’t enough to keep her busy. And so she began a relationship with
First Nation Communities in Northern Ontario and their dogs. After five years of helping provide
veterinary care in a number of remote communities from 2005 to 2010, Dr. Bolton formed the Grey
Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team in 2012.
The GBAQT started with four key members and has grown into a large group of veterinarians, veterinary
technicians, and support team members. In 2017 the group became a registered charity. Dr. Bolton
devotes her spare time to working with communities interested in achieving successful dog population
control and coordinating the trips to these communities. The team members, who live and work all over
Ontario travel to these northern communities with the necessary equipment and pharmaceuticals for a
full service accredited spay neuter clinic once invited to do so.
Dr. Bolton is hoping that with collaboration between interested Aboriginal communities and groups like
the GBAQT, we can achieve success and sustainability with Aboriginal dog population control where this
has not been possible or available before now.
Gary has been an Respiratory Therapist for over 30 years. Became a RN next. Loves flying and building planes. Is a wonderful musician. Worked as an OR nurse and flight nurse in the U.S, and Fort MacMurray, then eventually made it to the Grey Bruce area and became a client of Linda's. Taught nursing at Georgian College and then Conestoga College, and has now retired to Port Dover.
Barb has been with Gary forever! She is also an RN as well. Barb met Linda as a patient care manager for ER and ICU nurse in Hanover, on. Barb is also a diabetic educator and ended her career at Conestoga College in Kitchener teaching nursing. Loves to make glasswork and soaps and stained glass among other crafts. Both Gary and Barb have been raising Sullivan, an Irish Wolfhound for the last year.
Cassie graduated from the Veterinary Technology- Wildlife Rehabilitation program at
Northern College in 2012 and has been working as a Registered Veterinary Technician
in the mixed animal practice at Temiskaming Veterinary Services since.
She has a burning passion for cats but loves working with dogs, rodents and wildlife.
Anything with fur and whiskers really!!
She has volunteered with a variety of animal organizations from Northern Ontario all the
way to Cuba and South Africa. Cassie has been a part of the GBAQT group since 2013
and has grown a lot since then. It started with a love for dogs but has grown into a love
for visiting the communities and especially spending time with the children. “Children
are the future and I strongly believe that if we can make a difference with them now then
they will make a difference later “. She also enjoys working with younger technicians
and helping them along the way.
At home she wrangles her husband, two young daughters and a handful of fur critters.
Linda hails from the Ottawa area. Has been a devoted GBAQT team member for a number of years. Has a BSc in microbiology, and masters in plant molecular biology, and is a retired director of federal government laboratory operations and policy. She is an amazing dog behaviour specialist using only positive reinforcement. She loves new experiences and is an outdoors enthusiast.
Lydia has over 20 years working as a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) with
dogs and cats. Lydia has a special affinity for small carpet shark type dogs because as
she says “we understand each other.”
She is currently working full time in Bylaw for the City of Ottawa and part time at
Pretoria Animal Hospital. She also volunteers with spay/neuter clinics run in partnership
with Community Vet Outreach and the City of Ottawa. These clinics serve the animals
of the homeless or marginally housed people of Ottawa.
Lydia is a director of the GBAQT and is our secretary. She has volunteered with
GBAQT for 6 years. During that time she has participated in 2 sweat lodges, an ice
fishing adventure and attended a drum ceremony held in our honour. She says that the
reason she volunteers is for the bannock. She is just kidding; she volunteers for the
dogs, the community and she likes the team.
Lydia’s vision for the future of the GBAQT is to recruit new team members and mentor
new RVT’s and Veterinarians. She would also like to rescue a dog, perhaps an older
one that needs a retirement home.
Dr. Dean graduated from the University of Guelph with a B.Sc. and D.V.M.
degree from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1989. Upon graduation
Helena joined an exclusive equine practice for 14 years in the Greater
Toronto Area (GTA). During that period she also did small animal locums at
varying clinics in the GTA. Dr. Dean opened up and continues to run her
own small animal practice, Dean Veterinary Hospital in Kleinburg, Ontario
in 2004. She has 1 veterinary technician, 1 veterinary associate and 2
animal care assistants at the hospital. Her unique clinic is really a mixed
animal practice as 10% involves horses, 60 % involves cats and dogs and
the remaining 30% is pocket pets and pet pigs.
Dr. Dean has been volunteering with the Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq
team (GBAQT) for the past 5 years and has travelled to several First
Nations Reserves to do spay/neuter and vaccine clinics. It takes a certain
personality type to participate in these types of clinics: one must be a team
player and be able to work in a field situation. Dr. Dean has volunteered
with the GBAQT group because she believes we should help remote First
Nations Reserves to provide ongoing population control, vaccination
against diseases (rabies especially) and reduce parasite burdens in dogs
living in close contact with people.
Dr. Dean envisions that in the future more than one group will work
together to provide a unified approach for population and disease control in
the First Nations Reserves in northern Ontario.