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Bryden Bukich stands in front of UM's Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management

Medical student is helping communities find balance

Bryden Bukich is helping communities live healthier by helping them to find balance

June 27, 2024 — 

June is National Indigenous History Month. This month FKRM will celebrate, learn and honour the achievements, stories and resilience of First Nations, Inuit and Métis students and staff within our faculty. This week we’re profiling Bryden Bukich, an FKRM master’s student and second-year medical student at McGill University.

Bukich coached the 14U basketball team at the North American Indigenous Games. The event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Bukich converted their training to a virtual format.

For him, it was less about keeping a team together and more about helping the players maintain balance during a tumultuous time.

“Indigenous communities often lack access to programming coaches, mentors, gym space and equipment,” says Bukich. “The pandemic magnified that disparity, so I wanted to still stay connected with them during that time.”

headshot of Bryden Bukich

Bryden Bukich

Bukich says he took in the ideas of the medicine wheel, seeing the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual elements needed. He says experiences like the games are crucial for exposing kids to a much wider world of opportunities.

“Some of these kids may have never left Manitoba, and seeing how excited they were was amazing,” says Bukich. “It was great to have a small role in helping them meet new people in new places and make lasting friendships.”

Bukich wants to bring the same community-driven approach to medicine and healthcare. He says there is often distrust in Indigenous communities around healthcare, and it’s important for doctors to be “culturally competent and bring a multifaceted approach” to healthcare.

“I hope to maybe one day be able to engage in those things and learn from more mentors along the way,” says Bukich.

Bukich says Dr. Brian Rice is one of those mentors. Dr. Rice helped Bukich connect with his identity as a member of the Red River Métis, showing him where his ancestors came from and areas in the province with a special connection to his history.

“I wouldn’t be I wouldn’t be there today without them and their support of my ideas and letting me get involved in their research and projects,” says Bukich. “They also let me have a voice for things that I think could be improved in our curriculum.”

Today, Bukich is part of the 2022 McCall MacBain Scholar cohort, scholarships that bring together exceptional students who strive to engage in positive change by taking on meaningful leadership roles.

Bukich hopes, with support and guidance, he can impact communities both at the micro-individual level in practice and at the macro level in policy influence.

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