A medical doctor from Nigeria is the most recent member of the medical staff working at the Assiniboine Valley Medical Clinic in Kamsack.
Dr. Ovie Albert, who arrived in Kamsack in January, has been practicing medicine for more than 15 years, of which 11 of them were in Nigeria. He was born in Delta State, a South-Southern state in Nigeria which is known as an oil rich region, he said.
Although he practiced in several cities in Nigeria, he did most of his practice in the city of Sapele, Delta State; a city of just under 150,000 residents.
“I decided to become a doctor at a very young age, when I was still in Kindergarten, after meeting a doctor who came to our school to talk about medicine. He was very old, and had a mass of bushy, white hair on his head and face, which I clearly remember to this day. I wanted so badly to listen through the stethoscope which he had bought with him, but only five students were chosen to listen, and I did not receive the opportunity. That’s when I decided, I too, would become a doctor when I grew up, and I would have the chance to use a stethoscope often.
“I studied medicine at the University of Benin, and practised medicine in different centres in southern Nigeria. But I wanted to go on an adventure and explore the world, and practice medicine in a different culture.”
So Albert moved to Canada in 2014, with his wife Onome and their three children: a son, Ogheneruno, aged 10 and entering Grade 6 in the fall; a daughter, Oghenekevwe, aged 9 and entering Grade 5, and another son, Odafe, aged 5 and entering Kindergarten.
The Alberts resided in Calgary when they first reached Canada, and found it to be “interesting” but always felt they would feel more comfortable living in a small-town environment.
“I was born and raised in a small town in Nigeria,” Albert said, “and I feel at home in a small town.”
Life was “hectic” in Calgary, Albert said. He worked as a community resource worker with health patients who had developmental disabilities.
The process to be accepted to practice medicine in Canada is rigorous, and he wrote many tests and went through multiple assessments, he said. While in training he also worked in Rosthern and Prince Albert in Saskatchewan and went through the Saskdocs recruitment process, eventually finding a position as a general practitioner in Kamsack.
Although Albert arrived in the community in January, his wife and children followed in March. Onome is a housewife and “takes care of the kids.”
“Kamsack is a small town with lovely, friendly people,” said Onome. “And our children prefer the school here to Calgary. They have found it easy to assimilate and have made friends easily.”
“Our family has been made to feel welcome here,” her husband added.
The family lives close to the Kamsack swimming pool and the youngsters enjoy the facility very much, Onome said. Ogheneruno was quick to point out that swimming was his favorite leisure activity.
They have also gone camping and fishing with friends at Madge Lake and Oghenekevwe said camping had become her favorite fun activity.
“Odafe likes his sleep-time and also enjoys playing video games very much, but mostly he is the master of ‘dis-organization’ around the house,” said Albert. “He is the total opposite of ‘organization’” he added with a grin.
Albert is learning the game of golf, and how to be a better swimmer, having Madge Lake so close. He is also a keen chess player.