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50th Anniversary Reflections

In recognition of it's 50th Anniversary CRDHA invites members to submit a reflection about an aspect of the profession you appreciate.


For example:

  • How has membership in ADHA/CRDHA affected you personally and professionally?
  • What do you see as ADHA/CRDHA’s legacy?
  • A favorite dental hygiene memory?
  • What words of advice do you have for our newest and future CRDHA members?


CRDHA reserves the right to edit submissions for clarity, content and length. Publication of a submission is subject to editorial approval. Submissions will be posted in alphabetical using the surname of the person submittiting the reflection.


Send us your personal reflection Internal Link


Clarke, Judy
I had no idea how integral membership with ADHA/CRDHA would be in my personal and professional life when I first joined in 1988. At that time, membership was voluntary and I clearly remember the dentist I work with strongly encouraging me to support and become involved in my professional organization.
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How has membership in ADHA/CRDHA affected me personally and professionally?

That was 25 years ago and there has not been a moment of regret yet. My initial involvement started as editor for the Northern Alberta Dental Hygienists Society (NADHS) newsletter, “Northern Hylites”. This then progressed to NADHS Chairperson, ADHA Board Director and ultimately 1992-93 ADHA President. My volunteer involvement has continued on various provincial committees throughout the years, and was also instrumental in my transition to working with CDHA on a national level from 1993 to 1999 (including 1997-98 CDHA President).

As I reflect on the above professional accomplishments and others, if it were not for the support and empowerment of the many incredible people I collaborated with on the ADHA Board and Committees, and their faith in my abilities to lead and make a difference, I know my career and professional path would not have been as diverse, engaging and fulfilling as it has been.

What do I see as ADHA/CRDHA’s legacy?

During my Presidential year, ADHA was in its infancy as the legal regulatory body for dental hygiene, given only two years had passed since we earned the right to be a self regulating profession on November 1, 1990. Brenda Walker was our one and only employee, ADHA’s office consisted of shared office space in a small strip mall and there were a total of 816 active members on the register. Issues we dealt with at time included work on the new regulations, by-laws and policies; the Board was even considering the development of a survey to determine members’ interest in a local anaesthetic module and orthodontic module!

Since that time, I have witnessed ADHA/CRDHA become a strong (and at times, envied) leader and advocate for dental hygiene in Canada. They have faced what may have seemed to be insurmountable challenges, but through the perseverance and dedication of its staff and Boards, the final outcomes have been positive for our members (e.g. removal of the supervision clause in the regulations) and the public.

Given’s its history, ADHA/CRDHA’s legacy most certainly has to be the dedication and vision of its leaders over the past 50 years, whose groundbreaking accomplishments advanced the dental hygiene profession so that it can be recognized by the its members, the public, and the government as a vital, enduring and progressive health profession.

What is a favorite dental hygiene memory?

This is a very difficult question due to the “longevity” of my career so far. Certainly, finishing off my degree in 2004 as an “older student” was significant. However, as numerous and varied as the memories are, what I remember with fondness, appreciation and much gratitude are the dental hygienists who I have had the privilege of meeting, and who have become close friends and confidantes – these include classmates, former instructors and mentors, and colleagues from near and far away.

What words of advice do I have for our newest and future CRDHA members?

New members, and especially new graduates, must remember that they are representatives of dental hygiene and with that comes expectations to behave in a professional manner at all times when dealing with clients, colleagues, the public, and their employers. As well, they need to be true to themselves, always strive for excellence, and remember, …Behind every great smile is a DENTAL HYGIENIST!

Howes, Diane
In 1976, the year of my graduation from the University of Alberta Dental Hygiene Program, dental practitioners did not wear gloves, masks, or protective eyewear. Yikes!!
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Legally, hygienists were covered under the Dental Act, which simply stated that “dental hygienists may perform dental hygiene duties” (extremely vague). There was no requirement to be a member of the Alberta Dental Hygienist’s Association (ADHA) or any regulating body. Therefore, any expansion of dental hygiene duties (eg. delivering local anesthetic), was vehemently resisted by the dentists. Because of the lack of regulation, the dental hygiene profession was at a standstill.

At this time I was privileged to volunteer in the ADHA beside many dedicated, enthusiastic hygienists. I learned so much from this long struggle to obtain recognition and respect for our profession: Robert’s Rules of Order, networking, advocating, political procedure, political lobbying. Over the years I have used these skills for many aspects of my life. This experience has also caused me to greatly appreciate each and every stride forward that our profession has made.

A look at our profession today, in Alberta, is a clear indication of the legacy of these predecessors within the ADHA/CRDHA. The changes were not always readily embraced. However, looking over the history of our profession, I believe it is very clear that dental hygienists should be grateful for the pioneering spirit that has propelled our profession to where it is today. We must continue to be involved in the advancement of dental hygiene by advising/supporting the CRDHA as they continually support, govern and lobby for us at every level. 

As dental hygienists we have the privilege and opportunity to care for and make a difference in many lives. If we see each client as important and give each one our professional and personal best we can positively impact both the health and attitude of these individuals. Seeing each person and each situation individually can keep us challenged and fulfilled. In order to fully appreciate and benefit from our profession we must all stay in tune with our association; easily done by reading journals, joining study clubs, promoting the profession (eg. career days) attending general meetings and continuing competence events, and communicating any ideas and concerns with the CRDHA.

Thank you to those who allowed me the privilege of being a small part of this legacy. I appreciate the positive impact this profession has had on my life.

Diane Howes (ADHA president 1984)

Kara, Barbara
It was an honour and a privilege to serve as Alberta Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) President and make but a very small contribution in the advancement of the profession of dental hygiene.
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I’m happy to report that I still practice 3 days per week (general private practice), since receiving my Diploma in Dental Hygiene from theUniversityofAlbertain 1974.  I can honestly say that it doesn’t seem like I have been doing this for 39 years! I had the good fortune to work in a wide variety of practice settings over the years.

When reflecting on what I consider being ADHA/CRDHA’s biggest legacy, it would be self-regulation, hands-down.  By enabling hygienists to broaden their employment horizons, including the ability to be self-employed, it expanded the availability of dental hygiene services to underserved populations, which, in my mind, speaks to the mandate of the dental hygiene profession. It would be very gratifying to see more of our younger colleagues take up the cause and create more opportunities for this type of expansion.

 I have many pleasant memories of conferences, seminars and trips to Red Deer for council meetings, but one very laughable memory will stand in my mind forever…Brenda Walker striding down a runway at one of our conferences many years ago, modeling a rather goofy “professional outfit”, including oversized ‘eyeglasses’ with working windshield wipers!

 Congratulations CRDHA on reaching the 50-year milestone.  May we have many future successes!

Martinello, Christine
I graduated from the U of A dental hygiene program in 1982.  When I applied to the program I was young and thought I’d done a thorough investigation into the profession.  I’d researched what it meant to work in private practice and public health, which were the only dental hygiene options I’d known about at the time.
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It was an exciting thing to receive my letter of acceptance and I shared it with friends and family.  When I actually began the program with 41 other students I soon realized that what I hadn’t researched thoroughly was the program itself.  None of us had any idea how incredibly difficult and challenging the U of A program was (is) and that we’d be held to a much higher standard than others in our own faculty, as well as many other programs on campus.  To be a graduate of the U of A dental hygiene program is truly something to brag about!

I first became involved in the then “Alberta Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA)” when it was comprised of the Northern and Southern “societies”.  Starting in 1984, I moved my way up through the ranks starting as treasurer and finishing as past president at the provincial level.  By participating in and arranging local activities and events for dental hygienists I developed friendships and connections that I continue to maintain 25 years later.  I have lots of fun memories about those people, times and activities and best of all not all of my memories are related to dental hygiene!  It’s truly accurate to say that if I’d not become involved in my association, I would have missed out on so many professional and personal relationships.  I valued them then and even more so now.

Two highlights of my involvement in our association/college that I’m particularly proud of are having the opportunity to take the lead in ADHA’s participation in the development of the orthodontic module and as Chair of the Professions Committee, for the University of Alberta Dental Hygiene Baccalaureate Initiative.  I felt sorely unprepared for both roles at the time of each, but having support from our college and other dental hygienists with more knowledge and experience than I, gave me the confidence to respond on behalf of the group, even when I didn’t necessarily agree.

For our new members and those who will be members in the future, stay connected to your professional colleagues because it’s easy to become isolated due to the nature of our work.  Volunteer to take on a role in our professional college even if you may not feel confident about it.  It’s most likely that everyone else feels the same (I did) but take the opportunity to build leadership. problem solving skills and relationships with colleagues.

Meger, Sandra
Congratulations on 50 years of development and growth of a profession of which we all can be so proud.  I have been so honored to have been a part of this most rewarding and fulfilling profession for 33 years.
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From the early years attending U of A, where all of us "pink finger" bandits were well known as dental hygiene students... (yes that was before gloves, masks, and PPE, and the pink was the ever present disclosing solution), through the years of meeting with, writing to our MLAs for support for self-regulation, being a cheerleader for my profession always came easy.

The support from our college is nothing short of  exemplary. CRDHA member have access to knowledgeable and  reachable resource personnel available to each and every one of us with only a  phone call or email.

The continued development of programs have allowed us to  gain confidence in our delivery of services to our clients. (I was in the second  intake for the Local Anaesthetic course and the first intake for Elements of  Prescribing Course for Dental Hygiene Prescribers. As an aside, the yearly prescriber updates are invaluable). Kudos to our hard working team!   These programs helped develop us into the confident, knowledgeable, team members who can and do take an active role in our client’s health and well-being.  The role of an active and respected resource person within our dental team is one which I have been honored with.  For that I owe CRDHA everything, they have given me the resources and instilled in me the drive for perfection, knowing that I am responsible for my knowledge and my greatest gift to my clients and other professionals is to share that knowledge and to continually seek out more.

Dental hygiene has never been a stagnant profession, thanks to the hard work of our college.  How we look at the bugs changes, how we treat our clients changes,
products change, now even how the medical profession views and values our profession has changed... being a part of that change, embracing it, puts us on a roller coaster ride with greater thrills and challenges than anything I could have imagined.  Watching our clients achieve health, and maintain lifestyle changes, and when you have practiced as
long as I have, you are honored to see those changes instilled in their children as well... there can be no greater satisfaction.  I go home every night knowing I have touched
someone’s life today, and I feel if my clients can take from me one small bit of knowledge which is mine to share, then I have made a difference. I could ramble on, but that alone is the most important thought.

Thanks to our wonderful team of professionals, the continuing education provided means  I can and do MAKE A DIFFERENCE and that is how you stay in a career for 33 years and still love it!!

Ritchie, Jan
As a senior dental hygiene student, I attended my first ADHA Annual General Meeting. I was struck by the enormous commitment of the attendees.
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A small but powerful group of like-minded members who served the a at local, provincial and national levels. Leaders like Margaret Berry Maclean, Darlene Thomas, Marga Pittman, Marilyn Mabey and Barb Zier intimidated me yet inspired me to participate. 

My words of wisdom are, stay energized and engaged in your profession by becoming involved. You will never regret your volunteerism and contributions.

Scharfenberger, Lucy
Since graduating from the University of Alberta Dental Hygiene Program in 1988 I have seen my chosen profession evolve in ways that at times seemed snails paced and then swing forward with power and great momentum.  50 Years!  WOW!
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In ’88 we dreamed of and looked forward to self-regulation, a BSc program and the potential of practicing independently providing dental hygiene services to all Albertans in a variety of settings.  We have actualized these dreams and so much more. ental hygienists are now providing services as consultants, researchers, educators, clinicians and independent businesses.

My career as a Dental Hygienist has been enriched not only by my clients but also by the interaction I’ve had with my colleagues and mentors.  I was truly blessed with a great team when I served on council during which time I was also fortunate to meet a great number of super and passionate dental hygienists from across Alberta and Canada.  It was a time which allowed me to truly appreciate the work that previous councils had accomplished and the achievements that councils after would still actualize. Your CRDHA carries YOUR VOICE forward.  Naturally, councils do not operate in a bubble and without your vision and hundreds of support volunteers and our very dedicated CRDHA staff nothing would get done.  So, my gratitude extends to many for keeping the momentum of our evolution moving forward and my congratulations goes out to all Alberta’s Dental Hygienists for our 50th Anniversary.

Skene, Diane
I graduated from SAIT in 1979 with a certificate in Dental Assisting.  From day one of employment, Lois Blackwood RDH, encouraged me to go back to school to complete the Dental Hygiene diploma program at the University of Alberta; which I graduated from in 1986.
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I immediately joined the Southern Alberta Dental Hygienists’ Society (SADHS) and then drove up to Red Deer to attend a provincial meeting to see who was in charge of the ADHA.  I was so impressed with the women who attended I volunteered for several positions which culminated in being ADHA president in 1993-1994 and CDHA director.


Role models from that time included Brenda Walker, Jan Ritchie, Marga Pittman, Barb Zier, Paulette Schulte, Margaret Wilson, and many more.  Influenced by these amazing women, I continued my education, pursued a career in teaching and learning, and am a proud recipient of the Marilyn Pawluk Mabey Award (1998).  This is an honour that I cherish deeply.


To the newest and future CRDHA members:  you have chosen an amazing profession that has humble beginnings. Over the last 50 years hard working, inspired, visionary people achieved remarkable progress:  from meetings in people’s kitchen to an established office in Edmonton (with staff), from working under the supervision of a dentist to independent dental hygiene clinics, members of our profession have positively influenced the delivery of oral health care around the world. Be proud of our profession and contribute to its continued growth.  Happy 50th anniversary CRDHA (and many more).

Suvan, Jeanie
Congratulations to ADHA/CRDHA on the occasion of this milestone.  As a University of Alberta graduate of 1977, for me membership over the past 33 years (first as active followed by associate as I moved to Europe) has served as the foundation of opportunities together with an enduring and rewarding network of both professional colleagues and friends.
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Initially, membership provided support and guidance as I ventured into the real world of practice. Later, it served as an avenue to understand, serve and invest in the development of the profession as I served on the executive committee eventually progressing to president in 1992. As it resulted in my opportunity to move abroad, it provided a different support, then facilitating my contact with colleagues and development updates of the profession in Alberta and Canada.

ADHA/CRDHA’s legacy has been one of standing in the forefront of the professionalization of the dental hygiene field within Canada. It was the first province in Canada to attain self-regulatory status as a result of the collaborative efforts of so many individuals committed to leadership and advancement. This enthusiasm and commitment is contagious for those exposed. The results are now some years later are obvious.

To the newest and future members, I can only suggest embracing every opportunity provided through CRDHA. Seek involvement; as participation by as many as possible is the key to progress and opportunity.

Wilson, Margaret
It was in public health where I fell in love with teaching and those experiences sparked my hunger for life long learning as I realized that my formal education as a dental hygienist was only the start of my learning.
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Practicing the role of a change agent has significantly influenced my professional practice over the years. My greatest growth as a professional came when I became part of the CDHA or organized dental hygiene. Not only did I learn about dental hygiene from a more global perspective but I also learned so much about governance...knowledge that has served me well as an acitve member of a number of different boards and in my current practice as an educational developer.

Words of advice: Stay connected with your classmates and with the University. Those relationships and the insights you will gain from practice are invaluable to you personally and to the profession generally.