Tina is a member of the Tahltan First Nation, mother to 11 children and grandmother to seven grandchildren. She is a provisionally registered psychologist, and prior to her clerkship year in medical school, Tina worked with the Indigenous Mental Health Program with Alberta Health Services for 21 years.
She holds a B.Sc. in psychology, an M.Sc. in health sciences and health services research, and an M.C. in clinical counselling psychology. Now, at 53 years of age, Tina is in her final year of a doctor of medicine degree at the University of Calgary and completing a longitudinal clerkship in Yellowknife, NT.
Tina sits on numerous committees and working groups that support rural and remote medicine and holds leadership positions that address anti-Indigenous racism and inform care and physician learning though her work with AHS, AMA, IPAC, IMSAC, HSAA and the University of Calgary.
Tina has always wanted to become a rural physician. As a child, she would think of practicing medicine in Africa and trading chickens and goats for care, but as she got older, Tina came to recognize the disparity of health that Indigenous Peoples in Canada face and is now drawn to practicing medicine in rural/remote areas and with Indigenous Peoples.
Before landing on medicine, life took her in different directions that have prepared her for understanding what true holistic health care entails. Tina feels blessed to learn the importance of and ways to promote spiritual and emotionally healing from Indigenous Elders. She has learned through psychology what impacts mental health and psychological healing, and she is now learning in medicine how physical healing manifests itself. It is full-circle learning and understanding of how holistic healing comes from addressing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of being with every encounter.
Two teachings have guided Tina’s medical school learning and daily practice of medicine. Elder Sykes Powderface of the Stoney Nakoda Nation would say, “The spirit speaks, the heart believes, the mind thinks and the body does. It does not happen in that order for it is always interconnected but it always begins with how you speak to your spirit.” Each day, Tina gets up and greets the day with gratitude – gratitude for the opportunity to learn; gratitude for community, the land, the people; gratitude for treasured relationships along the journey; and gratitude that she gets to love people every day in the most honouring of ways.
The second teaching comes from Dr. Steinhauer, who said, “The best medicine you can give patients is to love them.” Dr. James Makosis built on that sentiment by saying, “We need more love in medicine.” When Tina sees patients and families interact with medical and allied health care staff and reflects on how best to provide care for those in need, these are the teachings that guide her path. She looks forward to practicing family medicine in rural/remote Indigenous communities.