Today we honor and celebrate a man of diverse talents. Evan Tiesla Adams was born in British Columbia in 1966. He is a Coast Salish from the Sliammon and identifies as First Nation. Adams first came to prominence as an actor, starring as Thomas Builds-the-Fire in the moving film adaptation of Sherman Alexie’s Smoke Signals. I have to say that I found his performance in Smoke Signals extremely compelling. Adams is an exceedingly talented actor that really understands nuance. He won an Independent Spirit Award for that performance.
An out gay man since the start of his career, he parlayed his personal experience into another award-winning role, co-starring in the 2002 film The Business of Fancydancing. He has also appeared in numerous television shows. Adams is committed to presenting an accurate picture of his life as an out First Nations man. He participated in the documentary Just Watch Me, narrating his struggles coming of age in 1970’s Canada. Adams is also a talented playwright, with numerous works performed around the world.
Throughout his acting and writing career, he devoted significant time and energy to First Nations issues. Particularly interested in health care, he worked extensively on HIV awareness and drug and alcohol addiction treatment. In 2002, he completed a medical degree at the University of Calgary. While he has not abandoned the stage and screen entirely, he focuses on First Nations health care.
Adams was appointed director of the Aboriginal Health program in the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine. His work won great acclaim, resulting in his appointment as the first Aboriginal Health Physician Advisor to the province of British Columbia. In 2012, he was elevated to Deputy Provincial Health Officer, focusing on the needs of the province’s First Nations people.
Whether presenting honest, nuanced depictions of First Nations people, speaking passionately about gay rights, or ensuring effective medical policies in his home province, Dr. Evan Adams is a dedicated worker for social justice. Thank you for your visibility and dedication to human rights.