For Ève Mailhot-Daye, her passion for the human body started at a young age. Now, at 33, she’s a family doctor at the Kanesatake Health Center (KHC), serving her community.
Daye, born and raised in Oka, joined KHC in July after recently completing her family medicine residency through McGill University and receiving her Doctor of Medicine (MD).
She is the first Kanien’kehá:ka woman doctor the center has ever had. She is also one of a few that have made KHC their primary place to practice medicine.
“I still remember the first day of medical school. We actually had four hours of Indigenous health teachings,” she said. “I would imagine how it would be to actually be a doctor.”
“I remember earning those letters: MD. I am extremely proud and grateful that I’ve had such an amazing opportunity. I’m grateful for the people who have supported me throughout all my studies.”
After high school, Daye attended College Montmorency, then Concordia University, where she studied cell and molecular biology. Next, she went to Universite de Montreal, where she earned a master’s in experimental physiology.
It was during her master’s degree when she learnt about a program in Quebec that allocated spots for Indigenous people in medical schools in Quebec.
McGill University accepted her with the condition that she complete one year of pre-med general studies. Then, she transitioned to medical school and completed four years of the curriculum. After medical school, she completed a two-year residency in family medicine as her specialty, where she had her own resident practice.
“My goal was to be able to have an impact on my community’s health by offering care and services to a population that has been underserved for a long time, and who may face discrimination or racism in the current healthcare system,” Daye said.
“Indigenous people, in general, have been advocating for their autonomy, and I think this is a good example of that: having our own healthcare professionals in the community.”
Daye is currently accepting new patients of all ages and patients who wish to change doctors. She provides a variety of medical services: care for chronic conditions (hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, mental health), walk-in complaints, pediatrics, minor procedures (IUD, endometrial biopsies, skin lesions/wounds, ingrown nails), sexual health and women’s health (Pap test, STI screening, menopause) and prenatal and postpartum care.
She is also on-call for the community’s elders’ home and does home visits as part of the nursing team for the population without homecare.
Women’s health in the community
Before Daye arrived at the KHC, women’s health services were underrepresented in the community.
“Women’s health is a part of family medicine, and unfortunately, during my training, I had many supervisors who did not do women’s health or Pap tests,” she said.
“As part of preventative care and screening, Pap tests should be offered to women, just like we offer blood testing to check for diabetes or high cholesterol. With the departure of the previous doctor who did women’s health, there was a real need to offer these services in the community.”
Many women in the community were pleased to hear that Daye was offering health services for women.
Amanda Simon recently switched family doctors so she can have Daye as her own.
“Offering women’s health by a young doctor will provide women in Kanesatake the open opportunity to take care of their health with having a woman doctor; their sense of security will surely increase,” Simon said.
“It’s important to have a young doctor who has the latest medical teachings, coupled with her familiarity of her community, which brings a sense of certain safety. As a person who will be using Ève for my women’s health needs, her being a woman doctor eases the often uncomfortable feelings we have for these types of necessary appointments.”
Simon, who has known Daye and her family throughout her childhood, says she is proud of her.
“Ève is a true inspiration to our youth in a profession that is often viewed by many as unattainable,” she said.
After being on the provincial waiting list for more than a year, Anne Richard was finally able to get a family doctor in her own community.
“She is the best, and she also deals with women’s issues. I would not ask for a better doctor,” Richard said. “I’m happy she deals with women’s health; it feels comfortable dealing with these issues with Dr. Daye.”
Daye understands that women’s health can be a sensitive and uncomfortable discussion.
But with the regular gynecological follow-ups she offers, including Pap screening for cervical cancer, menopausal symptoms, and abnormal bleeding, she hopes to have an open dialogue with her patients and make them feel comfortable.
“It may be a neglected area because of the discomfort one may have when discussing these topics, or the discomfort of the exam, especially if it’s a male doctor,” Daye said. “I hope with my services offered, I will be able to educate patients, bring more awareness to cancer screening, and help them through the process.”
“She’s a role model for our youth”
Along with her health services for women, people are happy a fellow Mohawk from the community became a doctor and now serves Kanesatake.
Kanesatake chief Amy Beauvais said the new edition to KHC serves as such a positive thing. “Our community is like a large family, and it brings inspiration and pride to have a family member succeed,” Beauvais said.
“I hope that Ève’s achievement motivates others to dream big, believe in themselves and not give up. It’s only when we stop trying that we truly fail.”
Jocelyn Bonspille agrees that she’s a much-needed addition to KHC.
“We are very lucky she decided to practice in her community,” Bonspille said. “She’s a role model for our youth on the importance of education to achieve your goals.”
Daye realizes she’s had an impact on the community and said she’s excited to bring in students to have her observe and learn from her, something she’s also passionate about.
“I went from the little girl that people remember from when I was ‘yay high’ to the doctor,” Daye said. “It’s a very special feeling.”