The International College of Dentists is a leading honorary dental organization dedicated to the recognition of outstanding professional achievement and meritorious service and the continued progress of the profession of dentistry for the benefit of all humankind. Fellowship in the College is by invitation only, to those who have been judged by their peers to fulfill these lofty requirements.
In exemplifying our motto, “Recognizing Service and the Opportunity to Serve,” one of the core objectives of the Canadian Section of the College is, “To encourage and support projects of a humanitarian nature both in Canada and the rest of the world.” To this end, as early as 1987 attempts were made to secure outside funding for Fellows of the Canadian Section to carry out dental services for people in under-privileged areas of Central America. In 1991 such a project was accomplished, however the Board of Regents sought better ways to fund treatment and educational projects in Third World Countries. This began with the formation of a Projects Committee within the Board of Regents and the establishment of an endowment fund. In 1995, the “ICD Humanitarian Projects Fund” was formalized through the Dentistry Canada Fund to handle the financial administration of our projects.
The purpose in working through the Dentistry Canada Fund was to receive tax-exempt receipts for the voluntary charitable donations made by our Fellows. As the donations continued to increase over the years, the Board of Regents believed we could handle these donations more efficiently with our own tax-exempt status, so in 2003 the “William J. Spence ICD Memorial Foundation” was established within the Charities Directorate of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. Thereupon, with our own tax-exempt number, the total amount of donations received, less a miniscule amount for administration, could be directed to our humanitarian projects.
In 1996 the Canadian Section began funding groups who were travelling to underdeveloped countries, providing dental care to severely underserviced populations. Our first grant was $5,000 to the Kindness in Action Service Society of Alberta, whose volunteers had been working in Central America. That grant was repeated the following year, and grants of $3,000 in 2000 and $4,000 in 2002 helped that group continue their work there.
Dr. Olva Odlum, a staff member at the University of Manitoba, in 1998 received a grant of $800 to ship surplus dental text books and journals to the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, and in 2001, $4,000 was provided to purchase dental supplies for a community clinic in the town of Lêderga in Latvia, which was being personally supported by Fellow Kira Obzracova of Nepean.
University outreach projects have also received support. In 2001, Laval University received $3,000 for supplies and equipment for an outreach project in Paraguay. The University of Manitoba program for dental care for indigenous people in the Isoboro/Segure River Region of Bolivia and lectures to staff and students at a dental school in Bolivia received grants in the years 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2004, totalling $19,200.
In 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006, Health Teams International, a Christian oriented group directed by Fellow Tom Harle, received grants totaling $17,400, to provide portable equipment for dental projects carried out in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and North Korea. In 2005, 2007 and 2008, a group from the Charleswood Gospel Temple in Winnipeg, under the leadership of Fellow Aaron Kim, was granted a total of $25,000 for supplies and the construction of a clinic at the Village of Hope, an orphanage in Kitwe, Zambia, and $10,000 in 2009 for a project in San Pedro, Guatemala. The Ottawa Mission dental clinic, another project of Fellow Tom Hurle received $4,000 in 2008, for equipment and supplies.
Our funds have made it possible to establish a one-chair dental clinic in Dona Aurora, a shanty-town of about 2,000 in the suburbs of Bahia, Brazil. This ongoing project, begun by the Weaver Institute and spearheaded by Fellows Evelyn McNee and John Fraser, of Vancouver, now operates as the Street Angels Society. Beginning in 2005, with a grant each year for 5 years, up to 2009 the Canadian Section had contributed a total of $43,000.
The $18,300 donated by our Fellows in 2009 enabled the 2010 Board of Regents to make the following grants: $6,000 to the Street Angels Society; $800 to the Ottawa Mission dental clinic; $7,500 to the Grace Community Church, Winnipeg, (previously the Charleswood Gospel Temple) to continue the project in Guatemala; and $4,000 to the Semiahmoo Dental Outreach, a group from British Columbia who will be doing a program at a school on one of the out-islands of the Philippines in November,