CPVMA 2022 SYMPOSIUM Panelist Features

Asadeh (Azy) Behnam-Shabahang (she/her/hers) is of Persian descent but was born and raised in Germany and immigrated to Vancouver, Canada with her family at the age of eleven. Knowing the preconceived notions that follow long middle-eastern sounding names Azy likes to share that the literal translation of her name is ‘Freedom Honorable Nightingale’.

Although Azy had known that she wanted to pursue a veterinary career since the age of sixteen, financial and family matters led to subpar attempts at post-secondary education after highschool. As such, in her early twenties, Azy decided to place her vet school pursuits on hold for the interim and was fortunate to find employment in the field of Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation. Throughout her nearly seven year career of predominantly creating and implementing grade-based wildlife education programs for elementary and high-school students Azy’s passion and confidence for her own education was reignited and led her to complete two associates degrees, both with distinction as well as a bachelor’s degree in Applied Animal Biology with honours, throughout her thirties. Finally at the ripe age of forty Azy finally achieved her life long (literally) goal of attending veterinary school, now of course also with a toddler in tow. Currently Azy is in her third year at WCVM. Aside from having (hopefully) gained what feels like an insurmountable amount of veterinary knowledge, Azy has also come to realize that our profession has much growing to do with respect to EDI in its curriculum and the culture of the veterinary field overall. In 2020 Azy initiated WCVM DIVERSE, the first EDI club at the WCVM, which she co-presides with her friend and classmate Charlie Wyatt-Swain.

Azy hopes to continue her involvement with the newly established Canadian Collective for Equity in Veterinary Medicine following graduation as well as extending vet services into underserved communities.

Charlie Wyatt-Swain is a 3rd year vet student at the WCVM. She completed her undergraduate degree in Animal Bioscience with a minor in Toxicology before applying to veterinary school. She currently lives in Saskatoon with her husband, daughter, and dog. Charlie is Inuit-Metis from the NunatuKavut community in Labrador and is particularly interested in how we can better assist remote Indigenous communities in regard to veterinary services and dog management.

Charlie has many roles at the WCVM including being Co-President/Co-Founder of WCVM DIVERSE, WCVSA and C/O 2023 Indigenous Representative, and WCVM Committee on Indigenous Engagement Student Representative. Her work has led to receiving awards such as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Rising Leader Award from the Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association – MCVMA , an international organization that supports diversity within the veterinary profession.

In addition, Charlie is currently involved in a research project led by WCVM professor, clinical associate, and PhD candidate Dr. Woodsworth, focusing on dog management strategies for remote Indigenous communities within Saskatchewan.