“When I was learning medicine, I always looked at it through a Cree lens and Cree world view” - Dr. James Makokis

Dr. James Makokis

Canada's Two Spirit, Diversity, Indigenous Health and First Nation Expert

Dr. James Makokis leads one of North America’s most progressive family medical clinics serving both LGBTQ2+ and First Nation peoples from all over Canada. He is a proud Cree, Two-Spirit doctor from Saddle Lake First Nation in Northern, AB. Known as one of Canada’s most progressive doctors and experts on numerous topics, he is on a mission serve marginalized populations and to change the outcomes for Indigenous and LGBTQ2 peoples. Dr. James Makokis and his partner Anthony Johnson were crowned winners of the Amazing Race Canada Season 7, where they received international recognition for their advocacy of marginalized individuals by making the world aware of the impact of discrimination and the mistreatment of anyone labelled as being “different”. They both currently reside on Treaty 6 Territory outside of Edmonton.

Dr. James Makokis has received international attention for his holistic approach to medicine. He is also one of the few doctors that combines traditional Cree and Western practices. Known for his compassion, numerous accomplishments and his unique insights, Dr. James Makokis has inspired all types of Canadians to challenge stereotypical and often discriminating views towards First Nation and LGBTQ2+ peoples. Dr. Makokis has won numerous awards, sat on many boards and councils, and continues to give back to his communities in any way he can. Through his work and his previous contributions, he continues to break down stigmas and identify the societal structures and forces of oppression that LGBTQ2+ and First Nation people face.

Dr. James Makokis wanted to be a doctor since he was four, and it was during his education that he decided to focus on LGBTQ2+ and Indigenous health so that he could make a difference for those often left out of the healthcare system and society as a whole. Because of the attitudes and discrimination individuals he serves face it often leads to his patients being misguided by the healthcare system, which then leaves them to mistrust the advice they have received. Dr. Makokis is here to create real change by serving marginalized populations and rebuild relationships with those who have are often left behind. Many of his patients travel from long distances to receive his advice and services.

Dr. Makokis earned his Master’s in health science from the University of Toronto in 2006 and graduated from the University of Toronto’s medical school in 2010 and the University of British Columbia’s Aboriginal Family Medicine Residency Training Program in 2012. He is also trained in family medicine. continue to save lives through his medical practice and his unique approach to medicine. Dr. Makokis has also worked as an instructor at the Yellowhead Tribal College, the University of Toronto, and the University of Alberta, teaching courses on Indigenous health, Indigenous cultural practices, and traditional medicine.

Dr. James Makokis faced many challenges earlier on in establishing his career as an Indigenous doctor. Being Two-Spirit, from a small segregated and poverty stricken forced him to prove himself, try to ignore hurtful statements against him, and to develop coping strategies to manage systematic and social forms of discrimination. This is in large part a big part of his success as a doctor as he can relate to his patients and can emphasize with them before providing his medical advice. He has worked from travelling alongside former Governor General Michaëlle Jean on a diplomatic mission to Brazil and had the rare opportunity to work next to Dr. Patch Adams in the Amazon Jungle. He also received certification from the Aboriginal Family Medicine Training Program and served as the Spokesperson for the National Aboriginal Health Organization’s Role Model Program for many years.

He brings his mix of expertise, knowledge, commitment, understanding, compassion and ultimately – love to every person he interacts with, and we are all blessed to hear his progressive approach and his unique insights. Dr. James Makokis has been called to serve individuals that struggle to make sense of themselves and to bring awareness to become an ally in improving the lives of those who struggle to find purpose and make sense of their world. He shares the stories he and his patients live with while celebrating each person’s uniqueness and showing us all how to contribute to improve each other’s lives and our world.

Topic Presentations

Canada’s Cree Two Spirit Leader and winner of The Amazing Race Canada Season 7 is a proud member of the LGBTQ2 community has not had an easy path to become the person he is today. Dr. James Makokis faced many challenges along throughout his life including overcoming bullying, systematic colonialism, community segregation, racism, and gender/sexuality stereotypes. He surmounted many obstacles with his strong support from his family, elders, and community all while practicing and incorporating the strengths of Indigenous values and culture. Dr. Makokis was forced to turn the other cheek and rise above all challenging situations, individuals and systems that were forced upon him since birth. He learned to master impartial situations and to use it as motivation for his success. He learned to use forgiveness, compassion and understanding to overcome those wanting to limit his success.

Dr. Makokis is considered a leader and a role model for all Canadians. He is at the forefront of creating new spaces for equality, acceptance, growth. He and his family play an important role in the quest for Canada to bring light to human right violations, historical tragedies and inequalities that all Indigenous peoples face. He and his family have been advocating and challenging systematic colonialism for over 35 years. His example has already served to inspire many within and outside First Nation communities. Since the United Nations scorned Canada’s mistreatment of Indigenous peoples, the Makokis Family and Dr. James Makokis’ messages are now finally gaining national and international recognition.

He has a compelling story of triumph over defeat. His story has universal appeal, and it serves to inspire everyone that hears him present. Against all odds, Dr. James Makokis succeeded beyond everyone's expectations. How did he do it? What was his inner source of strength and resilience? Let Dr. Makokis tell you his story about how he overcame adversity to become who he is today. He will reveal the right combination of traditional values, cultural practices, mental performance, leadership, transformation, spirituality, willpower, empathy, compassion, resilience, importance of support systems and community and the hard work it takes to succeed in anything we put our mind to.

The world is changing faster than every before, and some may argue for the worse than the better. A worldwide pandemic, climate change, and the Black/Indigenous Lives Matter Movement have caused a shift in our approach to our work, relationships and how we think. The industrialization and corporatocracy of the world economy have caused mass inequality between rich and poor, exploitation and mistreatment of minorities populations and the destruction of our planet and its ecosystems. So many of us are striving to make sense of the world we live in to make our lives, the people we love and the world better in every and any way. Many are unaware of the roots of Indigenous culture, values and spirituality through traditional practices that are intertwined and encompass so many solutions for these challenges. Dr. James Makokis shows how his roots to Cree Culture and traditions helped him become who he is today with a strong focus on improvement for himself, his relationships, the world and to advocate for any oppressed communities. He shares how Indigenous culture has enabled him to focus on his relationship with himself, the creator, the earth and all living things. Rooted back to hundreds of years of life before and during colonialism, he shows how the solutions to many of the world’s problems mirror Indigenous values and cultural practices.

Dr. Makokis has had the rate opportunity to reconnect with his elders, learn different Indigenous cultural practices from different First Nation communities and share insights and learn from some of Canada and the world’s top leaders regarding the establishment and importance of Indigenous values for all Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. We have much to learn from incorporating a world view through the Indigenous approach to living and being. Learn about how Indigenous culture helped Dr. Makokis to achieve extraordinary success and practical insights we can all use in our everyday lives.

 

The effects of colonialism and the systematic oppression that was created and has been maintained through colonialist practices has caused a loss of knowledge and access to traditional medicines that were passed to them for hundreds of years. The breach of treaties forced migration, abolishment of traditional practices and traditional medicines, and many other issues related to the mistreatment of First Nation communities because of colonialism practices has caused a lack of health, social and public services in First Nation communities. Health inequity and the social determinants of health for Indigenous peoples are deeply rooted in the loss of traditional lands, traditional culture, community, and self governance. Indigenous medicine and health equality therefore must first be addressed from a larger outlook to enable the preservation and promotion of traditional cultures, and self-determination expressed through self-government and community control over traditional lands, traditional culture, education, and social services.

Dr. Makokis shares his unique experience in growing up in a segregated First Nation Community in Northern Alberta, as well as his experience as a doctor on at Kehewin Health Centre, North East of Edmonton, AB. His unique firsthand experience teaches participants the history of how we got to where we are now and identifies strategy on what still needs to be improved for the different types of circumstances to increase the health of all Indigenous peoples. Dr. Makokis will research each organization and community’s past, present, and future challenges to tailor his presentation to focus on the solutions that each organization and individual can take to improve health for Indigenous peoples through traditional medicine, traditional culture, self governance, social services, and community involvement/engagement.

Dr. Makokis’ medical practice is located at the Kehewin Health Centre located in North East of Edmonton, AB. Through his practice, he has been able to positively affect both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. He has transformed many of his patients lives through his approach to medicine. His holistic approach starts by assessing each individual through human connection so he can establish a rapport with each patient. This allows him to gain a full understanding of each patient’s family, social and work life, and what variables may be impacting their health. His approach connects him to each patient and enables Dr. Makokis to find solutions that work best for each client, depending on their unique situations, often blending western and Indigenous medicines as treatments. By having an authentic and humane approach to his practice, he connects to his clients through love, compassion, and human interaction. He also assists patients to have a preventive approach to their health. Each interaction with Dr. Makokis and his clients starts and ends with his traditional values and cultural practices.

The effects of colonialism and the systematic oppression that was created and has been maintained through colonialist practices has caused a loss of knowledge and access to traditional medicines that were passed to First Nation communities for generations. The loss of their traditional practices, mistreatment of Indigenous people while in care and the effects of colonialism have caused the erosion of trust between Indigenous peoples and western medicine. Dr. Makokis understands how marginalized populations and especially Indigenous and Two-Spirit clients can be scared and misunderstood within the health care system. He has regained and continues to learn about how traditional medicine and traditional culture can influence the outcomes for Indigenous health and implements them in every way possible when serving his clients.

Dr. Makokis explains the importance to understand in the health field and health professions—whether that’s medicine, nursing, pharmacy—that there was an Indigenous health system here prior to contact. When we talk about Indigenous medicine and Indigenous ceremonies, those form the foundation of our health system. The original medicines on this continent, on Turtle Island, are Indigenous medicines. They are not ‘alternative’ medicines. When we frame things from that perspective, Western medicine is ‘alternative’ medicine. He teaches the importance of the awareness that the health system and health practitioners recognize the cultural roots and history for Indigenous populations to improve the delivery health services.

Dr. James Makokis knows the stigma of sexual and gender discrimination. He practices medicine with a unique brand of empathy, sensitiveness, and love in his sincere effort to help patients suffering from gender dysphoria. His Two Spirit perspective allows him to fully understand the different personality traits one may be facing when coming into his office. Dr. Makokis will draw from his personal experiences as well as knowledge gained through treating transgender patients and working with Indigenous peoples to develop resources and programs to advance access and patient focused medical procedures. Gender dysphoria is defined as a condition where there is a conflict between a person's physical gender and the gender he or she identifies with. This complex issue leads many to mental health, substance abuse and even suicide if gone untreated.

Dedicating his time to multiple First Nation communities and to transgender individuals, Dr. James Makokis gets to know each patient over multiple visits to use empathy to understand their social and psychological circumstance. He will share insights from trans patients based on their experiences in receiving encouragement and facing discrimination, shedding light on the type of support trans people and LGBTQ2 people need and best practices in putting the patient first before jumping to conclusions.

Dr. Makokis takes every opportunity to advocate for LGBTQ2 members outside of his practice and has again found himself at the forefront for human rights and acceptance. Transgender education in medicine is not very thorough in Canada, yet Dr. James Makokis has been so successful with his approach that some high-risk patients have told him that he has saved their life. Dr. Makokis is one of the very few that has first-hand knowledge of the trials and tribulations of transgender patients. His new age approach to medicine is bringing new awareness that breaks away from current treatments and medical practices combining research and care for patient-focused treatment. Dr. Makokis’ presentations focus on bringing awareness to gender equality within the healthcare system.

Dr. Makokis shares a unique perspective on how Indigenous and First Nation people can reclaim their culture and heritage, through strategic partnerships and campaigns that contribute to the success of his people. He shows how the impact of colonialism has led to Indigenous populations to be marginalized and often forgotten within Canadian society. The impacts of colonialism have caused generational and intersectional trauma, which has forced First Nation peoples to struggle with their identity and to find hope within their social and economic opportunities. Dr. Makokis will show how cycles of oppression have led to mental health, family violence and addictions problems for many Indigenous populations.

The social determinants of health for Indigenous populations are related to systematic forms of oppression in so many ways. Dr. Makokis shows us to break the cycles of oppression through self-governance, family support, community programming, social advocacy, compassionate care, and raising awareness within each community to instill change from within. Dr. Makokis brings light to the situation in showing how Indigenous populations can reclaim their culture through traditional values and traditional culture. Through a preventative and strategic approach, Dr. Makokis shows how to reclaim their community and to develop or restructure the delivery of their community programs. Dr. Makokis will identify key areas for improvement for each organization/community and will share how other First Nation communities have been successful in areas others may struggle. He will show the importance of continuing to grow the ownership and responsibilities for governing bodies in First Nation communities and the impact they can create without any third-party assistance.

Dr. James Makokis knows the stigma of sexual and gender discrimination. He practices medicine with a unique brand of empathy, sensitiveness and love in his sincere effort to help patients suffering from gender dysphoria. His Two Spirit perspective allows him to fully understand the different personality traits one may be facing when coming into his office. Dr. Makokis will draw from his personal experiences as well as knowledge gained through treating transgender patients and working with First Nation peoples to develop resources and programs to advance access and patient focused medical procedures. Gender dysphoria is defined as a condition where there is a conflict between a person's physical gender and the gender he or she identifies with. This complex issue leads many to mental health, substance abuse and even suicide if gone untreated.

Dedicating his time to multiple First Nation communities and to transgender individuals, Dr. James gets to know each patient over multiple visits to use empathy to understand their social and psychological circumstance. He will share insights from trans patients based on their experiences in receiving encouragement and facing discrimination, shedding light on the type of support trans people and LGBTQ2 people need and best practices in putting the patient first before jumping to conclusions. His gentle inquisitive method wins him the accolades of many patients. Dr. Makokis takes every opportunity to advocate for LGBTQ2 members outside of his practice and has again found himself at the forefront for human rights and acceptance. Transgender education in medicine is not very thorough in Canada, yet Dr. James Makokis has been so successful with his approach that some high-risk patients have told him that he has saved their life.

Dr. Makokis is one of the very few that has first-hand knowledge of the trials and tribulations of transgender patients. His new age approach to medicine is bringing new awareness that breaks away from current treatments and medical practices combining research and care for patient-focused treatment.

The Makokis Family can draft up a speaker series presentation specifically for the conference and your association. This half day session would include all three speakers presenting with each other, or each speaker can draft a presentation to follow up and expand on the other member of the Makokis family’s presentations throughout the session. Each member of the Makokis family has a very unique perspective on First Nation Matters and important information for all Canadians and will be focused for teachers and educators in Alberta.

This speaker series addresses the history, current situation, and future of Indigenous culture in Canada. It includes practical solutions for any matters related to First Nations in Canada. A truly unique presentation, there are not many sessions or presenters that can address the amount of issues that the Makokis family can. This presentation is customized to each organization and association.

Dr. Patricia Makokis, (Ed.D.) is acclaimed as one of Canada’s most outstanding Indigenous leaders and aboriginal expert. Her warm speaking style engages audience everywhere. She uses humour and relevant anecdotes to make her points. Dr. Makokis is internationally and nationally renowned. She is in demand as a speaker across Canada not only because she is an expert on Indigenous matters, but also because of her articulate and humourous presentations. The vital and necessary guiding principles of her Indigenous values are deeply rooted in the worship and respect for the land and the environment.

She intimately knows the history of indigenous peoples and she practices their philosophy and beliefs in everything that she does. Dr. Patricia is authentic. Residing on the Saddle Lake Cree Nation She is a proud First Nation representative and member of the indigenous community. She is passionate about who she is, the knowledge she possesses, and the groups and individuals she represents. She has embraced both the Cree culture and the western world view. Patricia has addressed numerous audiences across Canada and around the world in the fields of education, justice and health. She is in demand as an authority and an articulate representative of “what can be achieved” and “how to build on Indigenous values and culture” to succeed in this highly competitive world. She is highly respected across Alberta for her knowledge, abilities and her passion to help First Nation Communities become whole again.

She works closely with many different reserves, provincial and government agencies, healthcare systems and communities as a consultant. She is relied on by these organizations for her expertise. Patricia is dynamic, educative, funny and always receives high praise for her presentations. Dr. Patricia Makokis is an expert on multiple topics, which include Aboriginal Rights, Canadian – Aboriginal relations, First Nations History in Canada, and Indigenous education.

Dr. James Makokis is well grounded in all matters relating to Indigenous cultures, traditions, values, and customs. He is also experienced with the delivery of medical and social services to First Nation communities in Canada. As you probably know, James is a leading role model within the medical and Indigenous community. His keynote address and/or workshop presentation can explore the status of Indigenous health services in Canada and the improvements that are required for long term sustainability. James also can provide information on his struggling years as a youth, and his resiliency to become who he is today. James’ presentations will inspire audience members to become better members of their community through understanding his story, and his experience inside and outside of the aboriginal community.

Dr. James will provide inspirational and practical advice on how he was able to achieve so much through his education, culture, spirituality, health, self-confidence, self-motivation, and overcoming adversity. James has overcome bullying in his prior years, is a proud member of the LGBTQ2 community and has faced off with many government leaders, and is at the forefront of a shift in government perspectives on Indigenous rights, healthcare, access, programming, housing, mental health, and social services. James is one of our most outstanding speakers and we are proud to represent him. He has a story like no other and speaks on multiple issues, it is sometimes hard for us to keep up with James!

Dr. James Makokis is a leader among the First Nation community and is a primary resource for the government and Alberta Health Service agencies. James would be able to do a keynote or workshop presentation, with plenty Q & A, to inspire audience members through his experiences, education and understanding of aboriginal issues for youth and the importance issues surrounding challenges faced through diversity in the classroom. In his earlier years’, his work was primarily focused on youth, and James still has a passion, and in his own words, “a responsibility” to help Indigenous Youth become all they can be, no matter what their situation.

Janice Makokis is an active lawyer, consultant and Indigenous leader in Canada, like her brother James and mother Patricia. Janice has also Co-chaired the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC) at the United Nations on the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Janice is also an active leader within and outside of the aboriginal community. Janice is often called upon to help Indigenous leaders and communities as a consultant on legal and social issues that many communities and individuals face within and outside of the aboriginal community. Janice Makokis, the youngest of the Makokis family, is fresh from participating in legal matters and advocacy relating to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada.

Janice has also overcome many obstacles to arrive where she is today, and her drive and passion for real change within Canada has taken Janice on a path to become a leader, peaceful activist, mediator, teacher, consultant, and role model within and outside of her career which is focused as an advocate for aboriginal rights, education of the white population, social justice and acknowledgment for the past and current treatment of aboriginals today and represents real change for aboriginals and Canadians, that so many individuals and communities are seeking for. She also has worked with youth throughout her career and expresses the same passion and responsibility to aboriginal youth as her brother James.

Canada's previous interactions regarding medicine for Indigenous peoples have led to mistrust between Doctors and Indigenous patients. Furthermore, many Indigenous medicine practices and traditions have been silenced or lost, due to colonialism and Canada's unfortunate past of stripping Indigenous peoples from their rights, culture and knowledge.

Dr. Makokis has been able to reconnect with elders, his family roots and his culture to enable him to incorporate Traditional Indigenous values and Indigenous Medicine into his current medical practice so that he can best serve his patients. He uses a progressive approach to medicine which is a patient focused care practice with a holistic approach. He does his own research into different treatment methods, often combining natural remedies with today's most effective medicine. Dr. Makokis teaches audiences how to provide effective treatment to Indigenous peoples and how to regain their trust by incorporating traditional values, traditional medicine, communication strategies, and cultural beliefs.

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Edmonton, Alberta

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