The twentieth century had begun, yet discrimination and its ugly consequences continued to abound in the “Land of Opportunity”, affecting the minority dental student as well as the practitioner. It became evident that the achievement of equity required a concerted effort and a cohesiveness of purpose. It was to meet this need that Alpha Omega Fraternity was ultimately founded with its first two chapters in Philadelphia and Baltimore in 1907.
Alpha Omega, from its beginning, had been comprised of student chapters. Members who had graduated continued to demonstrate interest but had not sought recognition as distinct groups. Finally, in 1916, the first alumni club was established in Philadelphia, adding a new dimension to the Fraternity. The reputation of Alpha Omega was spreading. It was gaining recognition as an action group and providing for its members a means to assert themselves as students and continue as a unified group following graduation and on into dental practice. It was this spirit of unity and commonality of purpose that prompted the formation of an alumni chapter in Toronto. This marked the beginning of our internationalization.
The early years had been devoted to organization, coordination and demonstration of unity and purpose. But as the Fraternity matured, there developed an effort to promote the ideals of the profession, to give deserved recognition to those whose efforts contributed outstandingly to the advancement of dentistry and to publicly indicate our commitment to excellence. In 1935, the Alpha Omega Achievement Medal was created.
Concurrent with our activities to promote dentistry and dental education in North America, Alpha Omega continued its strong interest and affiliation with the State of Israel. The Fraternity inaugurated a campaign to raise funds for the establishment of a dental school in Jerusalem that opened in 1964. In addition, a separate dental school facility was established in Tel Aviv in 1987. This carries the designation “Founded by Alpha Omega Fraternity”.
The Fraternity was founded as a united campaign to combat discrimination against minorities – more specifically, the Jewish minority. Its strength and its activities served to raise awareness, prompting a gradual diminution of this depravity. There were others who were targets of rampant discrimination because of their faith, their colour, or their sex. Alpha Omega reacted, stretching its hands in welcome to all – the only proviso being the acknowledgement of our base – our heritage.
The Fraternity has been accorded recognition as an honoured, respected society of dentists; and as a centre of scientific talent and an organization of dynamism and vision. It was this spirit of dedication to the profession, to dental health, education and research as well as philanthropy that served as a platform upon which was erected the Alpha Omega Foundation. This Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of dental education, research and care wherever needed.
The Manitoba Chapter Foundation has supported various dental college building programs at the University of Manitoba. As well, it has recently assisted with funding for programs at a senior’s home in Winnipeg, a child and family services agency, the DVI out reach program in Jerusalem, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and helped to fund the retraining of an international dentist to practice in Manitoba.