December 14, 2017
Brothers Steffan and Shawn Donnelly, both prescription opticians, have co-owned the Donnelly Optical clinic in Pointe-Claire since 2006, when they took over the family practice from their father, optometrist Dr. James Donnelly. In his practice, Dr. James Donnelly met a member of the Kativik Regional Government, in Nunavik, who told him about the special eye and vision needs of the people in her region. That was all Shawn and Steffan needed to begin offering their professional services to fourteen communities in the Hudson Bay and Ungava Bay regions.
Together they built a mobile optometry clinic to provide care for the people of Nunavik. Accompanied by an optometrist, Shawn and Steffan visit two to three villages at a time to help as many people as possible. They bring with them a large selection of frames and make sure their patients get the right glasses for their vision needs. They work in partnership with the Tulattavik Hospital, which manages the team’s travels and accommodations and makes sure they have all the equipment they need on site before they arrive.
Each visit is a challenge both professionally and personally, because the team members have to adapt to a way of life and traditions that are different from their own. Given the harsh climate and unreliable road network, Nunavik has a hard time providing residents with adequate services. Despite the challenges of this rugged land, the Donnellys have seen a lot of help and support between the villagers, who always give the team a warm welcome.