A lot of people in the South Cariboo will remember Dr. Wally Mah who used to live in 100 Mile House and now lives in Winnipeg.
I have met with my good friend Wally numerous times throughout the past five years, and each time we talk, he continues to amaze me.
He has been in many places of the world, helping the poor and less fortunate.
GP: Where were you born?
WM: 100 Mile House, British Columbia! Right here – born and raised.
GP: Where did you do your schooling?
WM: After graduating from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School, I attended the University of B.C. to get my bachelor of science in biochemistry and then dentistry at UBC as well.
GP: How long did you work at South Cariboo Dental Clinic?
WM: Six years.
GP: In 100 Mile House, one of your hobbies was drama. What shows did you appear in?
WM: My first show was the Mikado. I was part of the chorus. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and caught the acting bug.
The second show I did was It’s A Wonderful Life, followed by Trial By Jury. I managed to get the lead part in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
GP: When did you move to Winnipeg?
WM: I moved to Winnipeg in the fall of 2008.
GP: Have you performed in other plays since you left?
WM: I was in my second all-dentist musical just this past year. We did Guys and Dolls in May over four performances and I played the part of Benny Southstreet.
It was a fundraiser for a theatre company called Prairie Theatre Exchange and for CancerCare Manitoba. We raised $28,973.17 and $11,056.02 respectively.
Our first all-dentist musical was two years ago and I managed to land the lead role of Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.
GP: What do you do dental wise now?
WM: I was working for the University of Manitoba,
which sent me to northern Saskatchewan to provide dental services to a remote Dene reserve called Fond du Lac. It closely borders the Northwest Territories.
I also provided geriatric care in various senior’s homes in Winnipeg and worked in the downtown
U of M dental outreach clinic. After a year working with U of M, I focused my work with the federal government providing oral care to numerous remote Aboriginal communities in northern Manitoba.
The only mode of transport to these communities is by plane and boat sometimes. I have seen the poverty and despair in these communities.
I have heard the stories of physical and sexual abuse, alcohol abuse, elder abuse, child neglect and suicides. But even in such harsh circumstances, there is joy, humour, pride, compassion and unselfishness I have never experienced before.
We hear only the “bad” stories from our Aboriginal communities, but hardly the successful and triumphant ones. I believe the general public often think of Aboriginal people as a separate people and not as our own people.
They are our people who we have neglected. We are ignorant to their history and current status and carry misconceptions of treaty rights. We have the responsibility to take care of our own and to right the wrongs of our past.
I strive to help them by providing dental care, an ear to listen, a hug to show support, and words to inspire.
GP: Where do you take your holidays?
WM: B.C., of course! I always manage to come back to B.C. every so often to visit family and friends. I’ll always be a Cariboo boy!
But I have travelled to numerous countries, but lately to Asia, including Hong Kong, Thailand and Vietnam.
My most recent trip was to Newfoundland. What an amazing province.
The people and scenery were outstanding. Everywhere you go there are hiking trails, but the best ones are in Gros Morne National Park.
GP: Do you have any other interests?
WM: I have maintained my running and entered in various 10-kilometre and half marathon races.
GP: Do you have any plans on coming back to 100 Mile? There’s lots of people who miss you.
WM: Who knows what the future holds? I never thought I would be living out in the Prairies and look where I am!
I will keep doing what I am doing until I get bored, but 100 Mile will always be home to me.