By Keith McNeill
Clearwater is getting two new physicians and they both chose this community because they like small town life.
“I grew up in a small town and I have always wanted my children to grow up in the same way,” said Dr Kayode Bamigboje, formerly of Nigeria. “People in a small town watch out for each other.”
His sentiments were echoed by Dr. Gangadevi Lokuwattage, who came here from Sri Lanka.
“We also have lived in rural areas and prefer it,” she said.
She noted, however, that one downside of living in some rural areas in Sri Lanka was the possibility of meeting elephants on the road, particularly at night.
Dr. Kayode Bamigboje’s wife is also a medical doctor. She is presently on maternity leave after qualifying to practice in Saskatchewan. She eventually hopes to come to Clearwater and join her husband in practicing medicine here. They have two children: a newborn baby and a five-year-old.
Born into a Christian family in Nigeria, Bamigboje boarded in a hostel as he attended a Christian school while growing up. Nigeria is hot and has a lot of mosquitoes, he said, which resulted in him having recurring malaria.
“I eventually realized that I needed to leave this country,” he said. He first came to Canada with his wife in 2012 for the birth of their first child.
“We loved what we saw. Canada is peaceful and tolerant of people’s cultures and different skin colors,” he said.
In 2013 they immigrated to Ontario and the following year moved to Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, if the weather in Nigeria was too hot, in Saskatchewan it was too cold, especially in winter.
“We decided to move to British Columbia. Clearwater came up on a list of communities needing doctors and I just liked the name ‘Clearwater.’”
He visited this community with his wife last December. “Coming to Clearwater was a bit scary, being a black coming to a white community, but Laura (Soles, wife of Dr John Soles) and Shelley (Sim, a Clearwater council member) were so friendly and helpful, we decided to give it a try,” he said.
His plans include getting involved in a church here in Clearwater.
“I love to study about God but it is best to do that in a community,” he said.
Other plans include continuing the swimming lessons he started while doing an assessment in Creston, and learning how to skate.
He would like to be known as “Dr. Kay”
Lokuwattage’s husband is a journalist. Their three children are aged 10, 13 and 16.
Sri Lanka had a terrorist campaign that ended in 2009 but tensions still linger, said Lokuwattage.
Many rural communities in Canada are waiting to get doctors. At the same time, there are many physicians from other countries living in this country who can’t get into the system to work as doctors.
“They are wasting their skills,” she said.
Lokuwattage said she went to interviews for three other communities but chose Clearwater, and is happy she did.
“The people in this community are always working together and supporting each other. That was the most important thing that helped me decide,” she said.
She has a master’s degree in public health and hopes to do health education here in addition to practicing medicine. Her family likes to camp, she said, and they look forward to outdoor adventures. Other interests include writing, filmmaking, traveling, listening to music, and badminton.
She would like to be known as “Dr Ganga.”
With the departure of Dr. Mark Walton and Dr. Alice Gwyn this spring, Clearwater has had only one full-time permanent physician for the past few months, Dr. John Soles.