Evan Tlesla II Adams is a Coast Salish physician and actor from the Sliammon Band near Powell River, BC, Canada and star of the movies ‘Lost in the Barrens’ and ‘Curse of the Viking Grave’. Evan has a Medical Doctorate (University of Calgary, 2002), and completed his Aboriginal Family Practice residency, as Chief Resident at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, and a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Baltimore, MD).
He is the past-President of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC), and the former Director of the Division of Aboriginal People’s Health in UBC’s Faculty of Medicine. From 2012-14, Dr. Adams was the Deputy Provincial Health Officer for Aboriginal Health, British Columbia Ministry of Health, and from December 1, 2014, the Chief Medical Officer of the First Nations Health Authority in Vancouver. He was also a 2014 National Inspire Award winner in Health.
One Eye Forward and One Eye Back
My story of two-eyed seeing - growing up with the dichotomy of Indigenous knowledges and Western knowledges – but in balance – describes a vibrant and holistic vision of wellness, healthy Families and Communities. My work as an Indigenous public health physician in a large First Nations health organization in Canada focuses on improving the quality of health care for First Nations through wide-scale health system transformation, but also on Indigenous approaches to leadership, kinship and traditional wellness. Improving quality of care is a strategic priority for Indigenous peoples, and we must contribute to achieving system-wide excellence in care. Collaboration, partnership, investment – yes! But we must also seek transformation through incorporating traditional approaches to wellness, and seeking culture as intervention and seeing culture as a social determinant of health. We can refresh our systems to include our own viewpoints as family members helping family members within a community context. Finally, looking back at Indigenous viewpoints on wellness and resilience, learning and honoring Indigenous values, and projecting wellness forward to next generations changes the current caregiver approach to a more respectful, multifaceted and effective relationship.