Dr. Evan Adams garners national award for work in indigenous health
Find out how Indspire Award recipient went from iconic role in Smoke Signals to beloved 'Dr. E.'
Actor Evan Adams is best known for his iconic role of Thomas Builds-The-Fire in the film Smoke Signals opposite Adam Beach. His alter ego Dr. Evan Adams is B.C.’s deputy provincial health officer responsible for indigenous health. So how does one go from an actor to a doctor or a better question is why?
His family upbringing definitely had an influence over his decision to pursue post-secondary education. Adams says his siblings all have jobs where they help people so his sense of service springs from them.
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“I really wanted a practical skill that wasn’t related to being ‘presentational’,” he says, thinking he could pursue acting while going to med school. But the moment came when he was forced to choose being a doctor over being an actor.
"He said ‘every lead role is a chance of a lifetime'," explains Adams. "‘Being a doctor is a chance of a lifetime,’ and he denied my request for leave. I was crushed…but in my heart, I knew he was right. If I didn't become a doctor, that would be a loss I would have to carry for the rest of my life.”
Commitment to community is inspiring
The Indspire Awards:
- Recognize outstanding career and youth achievements in the aboriginal community.
- Formerly known as the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards.
- 14 laureates will be honoured on Friday, March 21 at the Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg.
Adams is a recipient of an Indspire Award that will be handed out March 21 in Winnipeg.
The Sliammon First Nation member believes in a holistic approach to health care.
“There is an ongoing need for help with people’s bodies, minds and spirits,” he says, adding, “The legacy of colonization has left many of us in need of help.”
The need for reconciliation between the First Nations people of this land and Canadians is something close to his heart. His parents met in residential school.
“I get to make a difference at a very important part of people's lives, when they are suffering or in need. It's a privilege mostly,” says Adams.
Still in the spotlight
The actor turned doctor has not given up the entertainment spotlight all together though. In fact, he is combining his show business know-how with his medical training. Adams is hosting a pilot called The Dr. E Show.
“(It’s) about the art of health and wellness from an Indigenous perspective,” he explains. “It's been fun reminding people about their health in a show format!”
Beach, the star of Arctic Air, explains what it was like to share some screen time with Adams again: "It was like meeting a lost brother."
“When we rehearsed the first scene it was a big laugh,” says Beach. “ He was reading from another scene and us actors were confused and thought he had done a re-write because he sounded really good and he is obviously the expert in that field,” Beach laughs at the memory. “We didn’t question him. Evan laughed and apologized.”
“We all have to make time for things that are fun, constructive and somewhat fulfilling,” he explains from his holidays in Hawaii. The thespian in Adams calls acting a harmless hobby.
It’s that balance between the medical and acting worlds that help guide Adams to live the best life he can.
“It can be a long journey from the beginning of trying to do well to the end of your days and it's very easy to [lose] credibility in between.”
The Indspire Award that will sit in his home or office will be a reminder to him of where he has been and where he is going. He calls it a ‘thank you’ and encouragement towards ongoing effort.