Developing a Toronto Dental Chapter

Posted Dec 11, 2023

Developing a Toronto Dental Chapter

Kate Brouwer

This article originally appeared in the December 2023 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

Matthew Kelly said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.” This could apply to our work with CMDA Canada local chapter development, but unfortunately looking more at the “year to decade” side. Dentists don’t think in terms of decades – unless they are discussing investments! We think in terms of units of time made up of 10 or 15 minutes. We think of basic treatment plans that involve appointments over a few weeks. Patients’ enthusiasm for implant-supported treatment has led to more cases that expand into months or even a year, such as sinus lift, bone grafting, and waiting on osseointegration.

In October 2022, my husband Tom and I travelled to Toronto to visit family and meet with some local CMDA dentists and dental students. I had already connected with several warm and caring members from this area and wanted to chat face-to-face in a restaurant or coffee shop, instead of by email or Zoom. I found new friends who created thoughtful conversations, like Dr. Paul Zung and (then student, now Dr.) Ellie Hashemi. I met U of T dental students who inspired me with their willingness to be known as Christians on campus and make time for fellowship despite a demanding schedule. They were honest, real, and likable in their questions and comments. I also met members like Dr. Kathie Schenk, who were hungry for connection with other Christian dentists and dental students, but just unable to find it. 

Fast forward to September 2023, when Tom and I again zipped to Toronto to see family and reconnect with the Toronto CMDA dental members. This time I felt that we were sitting down with old friends as well as making new ones. Dr. Amanda Morel and her husband Tim hosted a beautiful evening of food and conversation at their home. 12 dental students and 7 dentists (some new grads and some not-so-new grads!) along with some supportive “plus 1s” took the time to join us. Over spaghetti, pavlova, and lots of birthday cake, we were “in the moment” – no distractions, just genuine conversations and laughter. The evening ended with prayer for our students and then a goodbye to them at the door, where I learned that dental students highly favor white sneakers. Who knew? Tom and I finished with the typical Maritime tradition of “door visiting”, where we said we were leaving and then trapped Tim and Amanda at the door for more conversation.

What does all that have to do with CMDA Chapter Development? Do we believe that God desires us to connect with Him and that the Bible also supports the notion that we need connection with one another? My life contains multiple circles of people who I connect with, and these circles represent different areas of my life. You are likely busy with your household or family circle, with your “work family”, and church groups. There is that friend or group of friends who are there for you during the celebrations and the losses. CMDA Canada aims to support you in those relationships as they are integral to doing life. Engaging with a local CMDA Canada chapter does not mean stealing time from those important circles, but instead, it can mean an enrichment, an encouragement for you in that spot where your faith and your career intersect. It leaves me pondering the question of how being a follower of Jesus should impact being a dentist, a co-worker, and an employer. I find joy in listening and learning from dental students and new grads – they have a different perspective than I do as a grad from 1995.

You may find yourself so well balanced in life, so supported and encouraged in both your faith journey and your profession that you feel you don’t need anything from your CMDA Canada Chapter. That is a sweet spot to be in, but it might mean that you have something to give to others who are struggling. What I do know for certain after listening to our Toronto dentists is that much good energy is created by helping others. Under the direction of our associate staff person, Charles Baik, several dentists have been busy planning how to best support the U of T dental students as exams approach. Care packages, hand-written notes, in-person meetings and prayers were enthusiastically offered up, giving joy to the givers as much as the recipients. 

I find myself once again referencing the verse comparing life to a vapour – “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and vanishes away.” (James 4:14) I love it because I think that a good way to figure out how to live life now is by remembering that I will eventually die. That end-of-life reflection gives me perspective. I realize this assumes I have time for reflection as I expire, but allows me some leeway, which works for me! I think it’s ultimately about my connection with God and my connection with people and what I choose to do with them. I don’t believe I will ever regret a moment spent listening to or encouraging a dental student or another dentist. I already treasure the conversations and connections that happened because I joined CMDA Canada. 

There is much opportunity to grow a supportive community of Christian dentists and physicians through CMDA Canada. I work 4 hours per week for CMDA Canada as the Dental Ministries Manager. This allows me to help connect people across the country, which is exciting for me. But that is just the pebble that leads to a ripple effect across our provinces, as individual members realize that contributing even a little bit contributes to making a significant difference. I encourage you to join me in seeking engagement with other members. Please feel free to email me at to find out about growing or starting a chapter in your area. And if you live where that would not be practical, we could create an online chapter group! For physicians looking to do the same, contact Jon Dykeman at

Finally, many thanks to those who recently updated their contact information on our website so that other CMDA Canada members can find them using our members-only directory. The directory can only be accessed via your member login. If you haven’t updated your contact information yet, please consider doing so, as we strive to grow as a community of support.