Asian Heritage Month Spotlight: Dr. June Siu
May 12, 2023
This feature is part of our Asian Heritage Month series. Did you know the Government of Canada officially declared May as Asian Heritage Month in 2002? However, it has been celebrated across Canada since the 1990s. The country has a long tradition of showcasing the culture, art, and history of Asian Canadians. The theme for 2023 is “Stories of Determination.” This year, we’re happy to take part by introducing some of our teammates that belong to this diverse community.
For Dr. June Siu, Asian Heritage Month is about honouring the pioneers from the past who paved the way for future generations.
“It’s an appreciation of ancient wisdom and belief – Asian cultures go back thousands of years,” she explained. “It’s recognizing the sacrifices people made to leave their homes for a better life for their families. Paying tribute to those who played a big part in the development of the Canadian economy.”
That high regard for her culture and elders played a major role in Dr. Siu’s career, especially during the early days. Dr. Siu had many passions and considered careers in culinary arts, music, and architecture. Ultimately, her love for animals and science eclipsed all her other interests. Her choice was met with some skepticism in the beginning.
Carving her own path
“Coming from a Chinese background choosing a career path that would ensure you make a living and bring honour to your family is important,” she said. “Relatives asked about why I didn’t go to medical school instead. There’s a higher level of respect for human doctors versus animal doctors. But I knew it wasn’t for me. I had to be firm in my choice.”
Now, Dr. Siu’s family is hugely supportive and proud of what she has achieved in her career. All it took was time to show she is happy with her profession and that she can support herself doing what she loves most.
“Your family is just looking out for you, and they just want the best for you. They’re not trying to ruin your life.”
She says it’s important to always be respectful of their perspective when standing up for your decisions.
“In Asian cultures it’s often the practical things families are worried about. Show that you are capable, mature, and made commitments based on research,” Dr. Siu noted. “Show that you can take care of yourself, live alone, cook, etc. – that helps relieve the worry of the family.”
Combining Western and Chinese medicine
Dr. Siu’s regard for her heritage also influences her practice. She provides Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM (e.g. herbal therapy, acupuncture, diet) to clients looking for additional treatments. She finds TCM particularly helpful for treating conditions with no known cure; it helps slow down symptoms and improve quality of life.
Sharing her culture, being active in her community, and creating strong bonds with her clients are one of the most rewarding aspects of her daily life. Her advice for her fellow veterinarians would be just that – get to know the wonderful people around you.
“One of my biggest passions of being a veterinarian is connecting with people. You can have the best skills but if you cannot get people to understand you or feel that you care, it does not mean much,” she said. “A huge part of this job requires you to connect with people, build trust, and understand them.”
VetStrategy is committed to supporting diversity in the veterinary field through our new bursary for Canadian veterinary students. Click here to learn more.