Dedicating oneself to a career in medicine is a noble choice, one that Dr. June James has taken on with a gusto that is difficult to match. Not only has Dr. James excelled in the field of immunology, she has gone out of her way to contribute to her community outside of the workplace.
Dr. James immigrated to Canada from Trinidad in 1960 on her own, leaving behind her parents and four siblings.
Dr. James began her medical career in this province by achieving a Bachelor of Science in 1963, then a Bachelor of Science in Medicine and her MD designation in 1967, all from the University of Manitoba. Since becoming a doctor, Dr. James has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments. She is currently an assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the U of M, and since 1976, has been a consultant in the Department of Allergy and Immunology at the Winnipeg Clinic. She is also a consultant with the Children’s Centre at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.
Dr. James is Past President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (2003-2004), Past President of the Manitoba Allergy Society, and the Past Chairperson of the Allergy and Immunology Section of the Manitoba Medical Association. She was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (FAAI) in recognition of excellence in specialty.
Outside of her professional commitments, Dr. James also volunteers on a number of boards, including the Board of the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation, the Board of the Winnipeg Foundation, and the Board of the Congress of Black Women Foundation. As well, she is very involved with the Harambee Housing Coop–a group that spent five years building a 36 unit affordable-housing complex, a project she calls her greatest achievement. Dr. James has also served as the President of the Manitoba Museum (1998-2000) and President of the Manitoba Museum Foundation (2000-2002).
For her contributions, Dr. James has been presented many awards, including the YWCA Woman of the Year Award in 1981 for her work in medicine and the community. She has also been awarded a Citation for Citizenship by the Federal Government (1993) and the Queen Elizabeth 50th Jubilee Medal, to name just a few. On July 15, 2004, Dr. James will be invested into the Order of Manitoba by Lt. Governor Peter Liba in recognition of her demonstrated excellence and achievement in contributing to the well-being of Manitoba and its residents.
She credits her involvement in those organizations with making her a better doctor. But she says living in Manitoba has played a part too. “The quality of life here has kept me in Manitoba. I love the arts – my second choice in life was to be a concert pianist. I can’t play a note now, but the arts are very important to me. Art and music help to refresh my soul.”
Dr. James says she’s honored to accept her Honorary Diploma, and has one piece of advice for anyone who wishes to take it: “Whatever goal you set for yourself, you should strive for excellence. And once you have achieved your goal, you should look around and see how you can help others.”