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Celebrating Asian Heritage: The Inspiring Journey of Dr. Misako Nguyen

Posted Apr 30th, 2024 in spotlights, the wire

Celebrating Asian Heritage: The Inspiring Journey of Dr. Misako Nguyen 

Dentist and Bilingual Dental Consultant - Compliance & Risk Management

This May for Asian Heritage Month, we spoke with Dr. Misako Nguyen, Dentist and Bilingual Dental Consultant for our Risk & Compliance Team in Quebec. We learned of Dr. Nguyen’s remarkable journey as a Canadian dentist of Japanese-Vietnamese heritage, whose career embodies dedication, cultural pride, and community service. 

A Story of Family Sacrifice and Resilience 

Arriving in Montreal as a young immigrant from Japan at age 5, young Misako navigated a new culture and language. "Like many immigrants, I saw my parents endure great hardships—from fleeing the Vietnam War to struggling to make ends meet in Japan. My father spent a year in Quebec away from us preparing for our arrival, a sacrifice that paid off.” Despite these struggles, her parents always embodied their values of education and hard work to give their daughter a chance at a new life.  

Early Struggles to Fit In  

Reflecting on her early days as the only Asian student at a Francophone Montreal school, Dr. Nguyen shares a vivid memory that highlights her initial struggles and her eventual acceptance. "I remember bringing a bento box filled with sushi to school and not speaking a word of French. The other kids made fun of my lunch, and I went home asking my mom for a 'normal sandwich’ the next day," Dr. Nguyen says laughingly. "But those challenging moments shaped me. They taught me resilience and helped me appreciate my unique heritage. By the time I reached University and Dental school, where I encountered more Asian representation and different minorities, I truly felt at home in my chosen field and have ever since."  
Dr. Nguyen is now a mother to three teenagers, and feels it is, “wonderful to see how Canada has become more diverse and accepting over time. I am happy to see my children's cultures, identities and traditions being fully embraced by their friends, a lot has changed in a generation.”

A Dream Rooted in Heritage  

Dr. Nguyen's journey was heavily influenced by her parents, who always put education first. "My parents taught me the importance of honesty, dedication, and hard work—hallmarks of many Asian families. They never pressured me into a specific career path. Becoming a dentist was not just something I dreamed of since I was a little child; it was a way to honour their sacrifices and the values they instilled in me and make them proud," she shares. 

A Career Serving Her Patients and Community in Montreal 

Working as a dentist, Dr. Nguyen has felt a profound connection with her patients and colleagues, which has been a cornerstone of her career. "I've never felt discriminated against because of my heritage; rather, I’ve felt supported by my patients and colleagues alike. Having been a Dentist for 26 years now, it is incredibly rewarding to see some of my first patients bringing in their children and even grandchildren to my Practice – there is such a wonderful sense of community here" Dr. Nguyen says.
Dr. Nguyen’s journey—from the singular Asian child in her elementary school, to a respected dentist in one of Canada's most diverse cities—is not just her own, but a reflection of a broader narrative of Asian perseverance, cultural heritage, and professional excellence. Her story is an inspiring chapter in the ongoing story of Asian heritage in Canada. Now a valued member of Canada's largest network of dental practices, Dr. Nguyen's journey from an immigrant child to a respected healthcare professional is a profound testament to the strength and vibrant diversity of her community.