“When I was learning medicine, I always looked at it through a Cree lens and Cree world view”

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Dr. James Makokis

Indigenous Rights Advocate | Aboriginal Health Expert | First Nations Leader

Dr. James Makokis is a proud Cree from the Saddle Lake First Nation in Northern Alberta. James received his Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Nutrition and Food Sciences from University of Alberta.  He also obtained a Masters in Health Science (M.H.Sc.) in Community Nutrition from the University of Toronto. James then acquired a Doctorate in Medicine (M.D) from the University of Ottawa. Dr. James Makokis also has certification from the Aboriginal Family Medicine Training Program, University of British Columbia.

James is a rarity of some sorts and is truly unique. Not only is he one of the few people to have attained such great heights with his formal education, he did it while having many adventures along the way. From having traveled alongside the former Governor General Michaëlle Jean on a diplomatic mission to Brazil. He also clowned alongside Dr. Patch Adams on a humanitarian mission in the Amazon Jungle. Dr. James Makokis also served as the National Spokesperson for the National Aboriginal Health Organization’s “Lead Your Way” National Aboriginal Role Model Program; he even completed a half-Ironman all while in medical school.

James suffered the constant agonizing bullying of his peers throughout his life, as a proud member of the LGBT community. With the support of his parents and community, he overcame the challenges and succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations. James has also maintained his faith in Indigenous values and culture throughout his struggles. It was through his connection to Cree ceremonies and the support of the Indigenous community that helped him overcome these adversities. It was in these ceremonies where Dr. Makokis discovered himself as a “Two Spirited Person”. Two-spirit is the contemporary term in Indigenous communities that describes gender diversity, and celebrates the uniqueness that one can possess more than one gender during their life.

Dr. James Makokis is an active volunteer and currently serves on several boards including, the inaugural Aboriginal Wisdom Committee of Alberta Health Services, Indspire (formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation), the Two Spirit Circle of Edmonton Society, and the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada. James is also the recipient of the 2007 National Aboriginal Achievement Special Youth Award, the highest recognition placed on an individual of the Indigenous community in the new Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba; you will find a segment on James and his partner, Robert.

As a doctor, national presenter and a proud member of the LGBT community, James offers a truly unique perspective when audiences hear his story.  James is humourous, has a strong mind and will, and has is a character like no other. His first-hand experience of the affects from the history of aboriginal discourses in Canada provide insight into the marginalization of “others” through Canadian cultural values.

He assumed his mother’s career choice as a doctor and like his mother became a leader and role model amongst many peoples of First Nations. There is truly nobody who can offer such a diverse and rich perspective on personal struggle, overcoming the impossible, inequality, indigenous values, assimilation, colonialism, community segregation and community building. His perspective is one that benefits Canadians. His story is compelling. James tells it like it is and does not shy away from the truth. He is honest, factual and most qualified to share his unique indigenous perspective with Canadians.

We are lucky to be able to listen to his stories, experiences, vision and advice.

Because James is a practicing Doctor, he needs considerable lead-time to present. Please keep this in mind when booking Dr. James Makokis.

Topic Presentations

Dr. Makokis can present a keynote and a workshop on the subject of Truth and Reconciliation as it relates to health, housing, education, mental health, access to health services, nutrition, drug abuse, addictions and family violence. As in every one of his presentations, Dr. James will explain the traditions and culture of Aboriginal roots and how they guide him daily in his practice and in his life.







 James can address these topics alone or with his Mom, Patricia Makokis, Ed.D, or with his sister Janice Makokis, LLB, M.A, an Indigenous Governance consultant from Edmonton. Together they compose a formidable team to impress audiences everywhere.

Because James is a practicing Doctor, he needs considerable lead-time to present. Please keep this in mind when booking Dr. James Makokis.

We all have a lot to learn from Indigenous Peoples. Some of the values that we hold so dearly regarding Canada's respect for nature and the environment are found and sometimes founded in Indigenous culture and traditions. We also have much to learn from traditional Indigenous medicine.  The reverence of elders holds many truths and wisdom beyond belief.

Learn about how Indigenous culture helped James achieve extra-ordinary success.

James is two-spirited. He is gay. Learn how he overcame bullying, the insults, abuse and the cruelty that afflicted him throughout his teenage years.  He surmounted many obstacles and with the guidance of his Cree culture, his mom and dad, he not only succeeded but excelled in education and he has now become a respected member of his community as a Family Doctor.  His example has already served  to inspire many both within and without his First Nation.

James was also discriminated against as a student studying to become a Medical Doctor.  He suffered through the slurs, slights and name-calling for many years. He still has to defend himself against them today.

It's a compelling story of triumph over defeat. Against all odds, James succeeded beyond everyone's expectations.  How did he do it? What was his inner source of strength and resilience?

We can all learn something special from James.

Young Indigenous people are committing suicide at a much higher rate than their white counterparts. Young men spend way to too long incarcerated. Young indigenous women are most often rapped and murdered in modern Canadian cities. Addictions are rampant and many Indigenous youth have given up on living a good life.

Residential schools have damaged the ability of many Indigenous people to parent and care for their young. Poverty, poor housing, inferior education systems and inaccessible health care are also an impediment to success.

James presents a message of hope to all those who care to listen. Young Indigenous people can achieve and realize their dreams with the help and support of their parents, relatives, friends, agencies and schools. Education is the large part of the answer, but not all of it.

James's message is clear. Stick to your Indigenous values, study hard, work hard and enlist the support of others to assist youth on their journey.

James is entrenched in Canadian Indigenous history. He knows it well.  He lives it daily. He can present it to you and your group with pride and without pointing a finger at anyone that was responsible for colonial crimes.

This presentation includes more than a straight history lesson. It contains pearls of wisdom about Indigenous values, culture, traditions, habits, customs and behaviours.

This presentation is useful to both the white and Indigenous community alike. How does the white person do business with the Indigenous community without offending or crossing a line of some sort? It's important, as we go forward, to take a good look at our past. It can guide us to accomplish more together, united and prosperous.


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