Diane Adams is in her first year of the Master of Public Health program.
Diane Adams is in her first year of the Master of Public Health program.

Passion for Indigenous health leads Métis student to School of Public Health

Diane Adams arrived at the U of S with a clear goal in her mind.

“I would like to work towards solving the problems that Indigenous people face in public health and improve the health, wellbeing and sustainability of the Indigenous communities around us,” she said.

Adams' passion for Indigenous health is clear, and she chats enthusiastically about the journey that brought her to study a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. A Métis student, she chose the U of S program for its focus on social and behavioural sciences as a core area of public health, and the opportunity to pursue research in Indigenous water security through the newly-developed MPH thesis stream, under the supervision of associate professor and award-winning researcher Lalita Bharadwaj.

Growing up in a remote community outside Thunder Bay, Ont., Adams was exposed to Indigenous public health from a young age. Several of her family members worked as environmental health officers, and the area where she was raised had a strong history of innovation in Indigenous healthcare. “The cross-cultural health model and thinking was ingrained into me really young,” she said.

In her early teens, Adams and her family relocated to Sioux Lookout, a small town in northwestern Ontario which connects 29 remote northern communities to essential healthcare services. After graduating high school, Adams worked at the town’s hospital. She was struck by the devastating negative health effects on patients from Indigenous communities who did not have access to a clean water supplyparticularly the young people. “I saw what should have been young strapping men come in weakened and with nasty skin infections,” she said.

For Adams, it was a pivotal moment. “I saw such a need,” she said. “It just made me realise that there was a lot of work to be done within Indigenous communities in terms of clean water and environmental health, and that I wanted to help solve these problems."

See more at the School of Public Health.

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