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Evan Adams

2024–25 Canadian Harkness Fellow ; Acting Associate Dean – Indigenous Health, Simon Fraser University; Deputy Chief Medical Officer, First Nations Health Authority; Clinical Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia

Evan Adams headshot

Placement: University of Hawai’i at Mānoa 

Co-Mentors: Martina Kamaka, MD, Department of Native Hawaiian Health, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa 

Sheri-Ann Daniels, EdD, Chief Executive Officer, Papa Ola Lōkahi — The Native Hawaiian Health Board 

Project: Circle of Leaders Hawaii – “Indigenous Leadership” 

Evan Tlesla Adams, MD, MPH, is a 2024–25 Canadian Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice. He is a Coast Salish physician from the Tla’amin Nation, near Powell River, B.C., Canada. Adams completed his Medical Doctorate at the University of Calgary and a residency in the Aboriginal Family Practice program at UBC in Vancouver. He has a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. Adams was the Deputy Provincial Health Officer for B.C. (2012–2014), the Chief Medical Officer of the First Nations Health Authority (2014–2020), and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of First Nations & Inuit Health Branch, Indigenous Services Canada (2020–2023). He has recently returned half-time to the FNHA as its Deputy CMO and half-time to Simon Fraser University’s new Medical School as an Acting Associate Dean. 

Project overview: Indigenous people need to ascend to positions of authority and influence in order to improve overall health outcomes. I propose a year in Hawaii to examine health leadership there — particularly in the areas of traditional leadership, public health, health policy, and medical education. What do Hawaiian health leaders — ascending, mid-career, and senior — need in the way of Western knowledge versus more traditional knowledge or knowledge transmission? How do more-senior leaders convey real-life experience when nurturing and mentoring more-junior Indigenous health leaders for workplace and community demands? It will also be important to make a plan to address the obstacles to Hawaiian health leadership development. 

Indigenous self-determination and “taking care of ourselves” require Indigenous leaders to lead reforms. Those leaders must master colonial systems and oversee health system transfer and transformation. They must include their populations in their planning, staffing, investments, and interventions. They have to model efficacy and effectiveness, and quality and health outcomes improvements, in a way that is acceptable to other Indigenous leaders, Knowledge Keepers, and their communities. I propose semi-structured interviews with top Hawaiian health leaders, researchers, and traditional leaders; document analysis; and an examination of new and existing public health data.