Chief Medical Office

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Watchmon Role • ​Reports and Publications • Background • Physician Team

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The FNHA Office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) draws on the richness of First Nations knowledge and teachings as well as mainstream population and public health approaches to support community health and wellness.

Watchmon ​​Role

In many BC First Nations cultures, the traditional role of the Watchmon is to watch over, protect and guide their people by standing guard, observing and warning of impending danger or challenges. As an important figure, the Watchmon is depicted in carvings and atop poles in many communities.

The FNHA’s CMO holds an important role as a Watchmon. The CMO monitors and acts as a guardian and champion of the health and wellness of First Nations people, province wide. As Watchmon, the CMO’s key roles are to:

  • see and hear, by observing, monitoring and gathering information and data from various sources to capture the story of health and wellness of First Nations
  • report, by sharing the story of the health and wellness of First Nations people in BC to improve health and wellness
  • guide (or guard), by providing “two-eyed seeing” leadership to contribute to a strategic response at various levels

“Two-eyed seeing” is inspired by the teaching of Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall. It refers to learning to see Indigenous ways of knowing from one eye and Western ways of knowing from the other eye and using the strengths, gifts and insights from both to gain a well-rounded perspective.

Reports and Publications

The CMO’s role as Watchmon is to share the story of health and wellness of First Nations people in BC, illuminating First Nations’ roots of wellness (determinants of health), supportive systems and structures, approaches to wellness and health status. The FNHA CMO and the BC PHO work in partnership to develop regular and special, in-depths reports and publications.

Sacred and Strong

Sacred and Strong – Upholding Our Matriarchal Roles: The Health and Wellness Journeys of First Nations Women and Girls Living in BC​ is a report about – and for – all First Nations women and girls living in BC.

The report focuses on the health and wellness of First Nations women and girls, including teachings that First Nations have known since time immemorial contribute to mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being at every phase of life, from conception to old age. 

It is a celebration of the incredible strength and resilience of First Nations women and girls. By sharing information and stories of lived experiences, this work aims to further empower women on their wellness journeys. 

Sacred and Strong is also a reminder of the urgent need for collective action in eliminating prevailing systemic barriers to enable all First Nations women and girls to be self-determining, healthy and thriving.

We Walk Together

We Walk Together: Exploring Connection to Land, Water, and Territory-Final Research Report is a research report that explores the connection between land, water and territory and optimal health and wellness.

In 2016, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer (OCMO) and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer (OPHO) created a partnership to monitor and report on an expanded set of indicators that better reflect First Nations priorities and perspectives on health and wellness. One foundational aspect of understanding First Nations health and wellness – connection to land, water and territory – has not been measured in existing health data in BC.

The We Walk Together project gathered and brought together First Nations people in BC, including Knowledge Keepers and youth, on the unceded territories of three distinct First Nations : Stó:lō Nation (Fraser Salish regi​on), Lil'wat Nation (Vancouver Coastal region), and Lake Babine Nation (Northern region). The goal of this project is to inform the development of a new health indicator based on First Nation Knowledges. The hope is that this indicator will enable the FNHA and the OPHO to monitor First Nations in BC's connection to land, water and territory and work with health system partners to strengthen it in order to be accountable to BC First Nations and uphold their inherent rights. This indicator will be reported on in future ​provincial population health and wellness reports.

First Nations Population Health and Wellness

Backg​​round

Between 2006 and 2014, First Nations in BC established a clear mandate for health data governance and information management through a series of health plans and agreements, consensus papers and the 7 Directives. This mandate directed the FNHA to create a First Nations leadership position responsible for monitoring and reporting on the health of First Nations people in BC and tracking progress against health and wellness indicators.

In 2014, the FNHA appointed the first-ever (and so far, only) Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in Canada to advance First Nations’ self-determination and self-governance. The CMO was given authority by the BC First Nations governance structure to implement health and wellness actions in partnership with provincial and federal medical health officers.

Before the FNHA was established, BC’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) was solely responsibility for reporting on the health of Indigenous peoples living in BC. Following the establishment of the FNHA’s Office of the CMO, the FNHA and the Province of BC assumed shared responsibility for First Nations population health reporting. Since then, the two offices have formed a unique partnership built on mutual respect and collaboration that reflects reconciliation in action. Together they produce reports that provide evidence-informed analyses to support, inform and catalyze action throughout the health system and other sectors and to monitor and support the wellness of the First Nations population.​

Physician Team

The Office of the CMO includes seven ​Medical Officers. These officers are physicians who provide clinical and public health leadership in their areas of specialization.

The physicians and surgeons practising within the Office of the Chief Medical Officer are licensed and regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. To learn more about the practice standards expected of College registrants by their regulatory body or to view physician or surgeon’s credentials, please contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.

Dr. Cornelia (Nel) Wieman

Dr. Nel Wieman, Chief Medical Officer, is the ​CMO​ at the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) in British Columbia, where she has worked since 2018. She is Anishinaabe (Little Grand Rapids First Nation, Manitoba) and lives, works and plays on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples – the səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.​ 

Dr. Wieman completed her medical degree and psychiatry specialty training at McMaster University. Canada's first female Indigenous psychiatrist, Dr. Wieman has more than 20 years' clinical experience, working with Indigenous people in both rural/reserve and urban settings. Her previous activities include co-directing an Indigenous health research program in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and the National Network for Indigenous Mental Health Research, being Deputy Chair of Health Canada's Research Ethics Board, and serving on CIHR's Governing Council. She has also worked and taught in many academic settings, has chaired national advisory groups within First Nations Inuit Health Branch - Health Canada, and has served as a Director on many boards, including the Indspire Foundation and Pacific Blue Cross.  Dr. Wieman served as the President of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC) from 2016-2022. She was one of the 6 Indigenous physician founders of the National Consortium on Indigenous Medical Education (NCIME).  She has been appointed to the BC Provincial Task Team charged with ensuring implementation of the recommendations arising from the “In Plain Sight" report.

Specializations: Mental Health and Wellness / Addictions, Trauma-Informed Practice, Cannabis, Communications and Wellness Initiatives.

Dr. Kelsey Louie ​

Dr. Kelsey Louie, Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer, is Coast Salish from the Tla’amin First Nation. He served as Medical Officer and Senior Medical Officer in the OCMO from 2017 to 2023 before agreeing to take on the role of Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer. A graduate of UBC’s Indigenous Family Practice residency program, Dr. Louie also works as a primary care provider in Victoria, BC, providing both hospital-based care and virtual health services with the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program. He continues to promote and support FNHA’s health and wellness vision by integrating cultural safety and humility into both his clinical and non-clinical work, and aims to continue being active as a wellness champion.

Specializations: Primary Care, Injury Prevention, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Family Violence, Men's Health, Cultural Safety and Humility.

Dr. Evan Adams

Dr. Evan Adams, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Public Health (part-time), is a member of, and grew up in the territories of, the Tla’amin First Nation in Powell River, British Columbia (BC). He completed his medical degree at the University of Calgary, an Indigenous Family Practice residency at St Paul’s Hospital/University of BC (as Chief Resident), and a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.

From 2020 to 2023, Dr. Adams was Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Public Health at Indigenous Services Canada, where his focus was the national COVID-19 response and recovery. From 2014 to 2020, he was the FNHA’s inaugural Chief Medical Officer (CMO). His role at the FNHA included setting up the newly created OCMO, monitoring and reporting on the health of the First Nations population, developing new ways to focus on wellness from a First Nations perspective, and advocating for cultural safety across the health system. Before joining the FNHA the first time in 2014, Dr. Adams served as BC’s Deputy Provincial Health Officer from 2012 to 2014, where he provided direction on First Nations health issues to the Ministry of Health, reported to First Nations citizens on health issues affecting the general population, and set out a path for the improvement of First Nations health and wellness

Dr. Unjali Malhotra ​

Dr. Unjali Malhotra, Medical Director​, Women's Health, is from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She completed her residency in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she created and completed a women's health residency program after family residency. 

Dr. Malhotra is the Founder and former Program Director of the UBC Women's Health Residency Program (for training family doctors in advanced women's health skills for delivery in rural and remote communities). She is the outgoing Medical Director of Options for Sexual Health BC (five years) and the outgoing Chair of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada's Canadian Foundation for Women's Health (two years). She also previously served on the Board of the Federation for Medical Women. She is an author and speaker for Continuing Medical Education both provincially and nationally, In her various roles, Dr. Malhotra has co-created provincial programs that are focused on advocacy, community support, and education as much as clinical services.

Specializations: Women's Health, Menopause, HPV, Contraception.

Dr. Celeste Loewe

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​Dr. Celeste Loewe, Medical Officer, Health and Wellness, ​grew up in beautiful Vancouver where she obtained h​er bachelor's degree and undergraduate medical degree. She recently completed residency in public health and preventive medicine and family medicine at Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM). After working with First Nations and Inuit Health Branch in Alberta and Ottawa under Indigenous Services Canada, she is happy to return to Vancouver to work with FNHA. 

Specializations: Communicable Disease, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Environmental Public Health, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease/Injury Prevention, Population Health Assessment, Health Policy, Program Planning and Evaluation, Health Equity​​​

Dr. Kamran Golmohamm​adi​

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​Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, Medical Officer, Public Health, completed his graduate studies and residency training at the University of Alberta. After graduating, he trained for six additional months in the St. Paul's Hospital Healthy Heart Program. He also served in the Interior Health region as a Medical Healt​h Officer for six years.

Dr. Golmohammadi is also a Clinical Associate Professor in the UBC Faculty of Medicine School of Population and Public Health. For the past three years, he has represented the UBC public health clinical faculty members and he served a two-year term as the co-chair of the BC Provincial Environmental Health Advisory Committee.

An advocate for adopting a relational approach in health care, Dr. Golmohammadi is determined to raise awareness against the misconception that health outcomes are simply due to health behaviors. He believes learning about the historical impacts of social injustice, discrimination, stigma, and structural inequities, will improve our cultural competency.

Dr. Golmohammadi is an author member of the Cochrane Collaboration and his areas of research and practice include environmental public health, injury prevention and chronic diseases prevention.

Dr. Nolan Hop Wo

Dr Nolan Hop Wo

Dr. Nolan Hop Wo, Medical Officer, Mental Health and Wellness, is a member of the Métis Nation of Greater Victoria. He completed his medical training at UBC’s Island Medical Program in Victoria, BC, and his psychiatry specialty training at Western University in London, Ontario. Prior to that, he obtained a Bachelor of Nursing Degree at the University of Calgary. 

Dr. Hop Wo has five years’ experience working as a consultant psychiatrist in Alberta at a tertiary referral centre in an area with an over-represented Indigenous patient population. He was Resident Director with the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada from 2014 to 2017; a physician member of the Alberta Medical Association Indigenous Health Committee from 2020 to 2021; and the President of the Medical Staff Association of The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury from 2017 to 2022. He is currently a physician member of the Indigenous Health in Specialty Post Graduate Medical Education Accreditation Expert Working Group with the Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada (since 2019).

Specializations: Mental Health and Wellness / Addictions.​​​​​​​​

 Contact

Office of the Chief Medical Officer​

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