Lillian Eva Dyck
Growing up in the Canadian West in the 1950s, you might say Dr. Lillian Eva Dyck had two-strikes against her from day one. Born to an Aboriginal mother, her father was Chinese. Not exactly the perfect mix for the towns and villages in Saskatchewan she and her family moved through back then. Being poor – and non-white – Dr. Dyck and her brother, both members of the Gordon First Nation, found themselves placed in the “slow room” at their Swift Current school. A mistake both would overcome thanks, in part, to a teacher, John Dyer, who took a special interest in both of them. He helped them excel and encouraged them to embark on university journeys. Years later, the little girl is now a neuropsychiatrist – one of the few women in Canada and all the Aboriginal world to hold such a title. She has just about every degree the University of Saskatchewan can offer, right up to and including a Ph.D. The study of the brain simply appealed to her, she said modestly when interviewed. Now a full professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s Dept. of Psychiatry, she’s in the thick of studies into Alzheimer’s and other diseases. Her academic publications, in some of the world’s most learned journals, are too numerous to mention. She has also been honoured by the House of Commons for her service as a role model to young girls and women considering a career in the sciences. Dr. Dyck is a frequent speaker before young Aboriginal audiences and an obvious role model. Professor Lillian Eva Dyck, medical pioneer, was the 1999 National Aboriginal Achievement Award recipient in the category of Science.