When Ning Li opened his Red Deer Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Clinic earlier this month, it marked the culmination of a journey that’s spanned a decade and two continents.
A registered Chinese medicine practitioner and acupuncturist, Li is eager to employ his healing skills on area residents. His specialties include treatments for depression, diabetes, colitis, nasal polyps and anal fistula, but his practice at No. 5, 5431 43rd St. covers a much broader range of ailments.
The son of a well-known doctor in Shandong, China, Li grew up watching and helping his father treat patients, and decided at a young age to join the profession. He obtained a university degree in Chinese and Western medicine in 2005, and went on to study under Dr. Chaogang He — whom Li describes as one of China’s leading medical doctors.
Eventually, he went to work at his father’s clinic. But anxious to exert his independence, Li approached a recruiter who was seeking workers for Maple Leaf Foods in Canada.
To improve his chances of landing a job, he claimed to be a butcher.
“I lied,” admitted Li a laugh. “I was really a doctor.”
The fib earned him a one-way trip to Canada. He left China in 2007, with a young wife and infant child still behind.
“When I take the airplane from China to be in Canada, my son only 20 days.”
Li ended up at a Maple Leaf’s pork processing plant in Brandon, Man. After working hard for two years, he was able to bring his family to Canada.
Medicine remained his aspiration, and one day he approached the owner of the Brandon Acupuncture and Chinese Massage & Herbal Centre. After reviewing Li’s credentials and testing his knowledge, the owner agreed to help him develop his skills and learn to speak English.
For the next several years, Li continued to work at the Maple Leaf plant but also helped out at the clinic.
He went from watching and assisting, to treating patients himself.
Li’s father, meanwhile, was urging him to return to China and take over the family clinic. But Li felt his time in Canada had given him the opportunity to do more here than he could in his home country.
“I want to help Canadian people.”
He continues to feel that he has the skills and knowledge to provide treatments that might not be available elsewhere. For instance, said Li, his acupuncture-focused treatment for depression is not widely known outside China.
“This is my responsibility.”
Last fall, Li and his family relocated to Red Deer. After working briefly at Olymel, where his wife continues to work, he focused his full energies to starting Red Deer Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Clinic.
That business now operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday.
As his patient list grows, Li hopes to employ his wife as well, but for now is just happy to finally have his own practice.
“I want to open clinic by myself,” he said. “I want to be free.”
Li is certified by the Canadian Society of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, the College and Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta, the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario, and the Manitoba Professional Acupuncture Association.
Information about his clinic can be found online at www.reddeertcm.com.