Culture and Leadership Connections Podcast

Dr. Cornelia (Nel) Wieman – On My Own

July 21, 2021 Marie Gervais Season 4 Episode 14
Culture and Leadership Connections Podcast
Dr. Cornelia (Nel) Wieman – On My Own
Show Notes

Bio for Dr. Cornelia (Nel) Wieman

Dr. Nel Wieman, Anishinaabe (Little Grand Rapids First Nation, Manitoba), is the Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the First Nations Health Authority and has served as the President of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC) since 2016. 

Episode highlight

As a First Nations child “scooped” into a Dutch family, Dr. Nel Wieman grew up struggling with her identity and culture. Listen in on how she grew into her authentic self to become Canada’s first female Indigenous Psychiatrist, now working to uplift indigenous communities. 



Twitter: @cwieman


First Nations Health Authority:

First Nations Health Authority in BC (Facebook):


“You can’t start tackling something if you don’t acknowledge that it’s a problem, to begin with.”

“It’s been a lifelong journey thinking about working on… my identity as an indigenous person.”


Childhood Incidents

In grade 1, Dr. Wieman was asked to write her birth announcement with details of her birth, which, being adopted, she had no knowledge of. She became “quite fiercely independent” in response to how different she was and carried that self-reliance into her work.

She was a competitive track and field athlete in high school, which made her very self-focused. When a truck hit-and-run accident landed her in the hospital, she became aware of her mortality and it made her think about contributing to other people’s lives. 

Influential Groups 

Dr. Wieman felt torn that her father had indigenous friends but would not acknowledge her identity as an indigenous person. Those who grew up on the reserves with their families and speaking their languages look down upon people like her who don’t. 

Temperament and Personality Influences

Dr. Wieman claims that she has always been stubborn and determined. She has learnt to work and trust others in a team. She has also developed a sense of humour to lighten the dense work she does.

Cultural Epiphanies

Dr. Wieman has never bought into the hierarchical nature of medicine, where physicians believe that they deserve to be appreciated “just because of their title.” 

Advice to an Employer 

The best way to work with Dr. Wieman is to identify “a challenge or a goal that has to be achieved” and provide support. 

More Great Insights! 

Dr. Wieman uses the 7 Generation principle to guide her in life, which teaches that “what we accomplish in our lifetimes, the effects of that will be felt forward like waves until 7 generations into the future.” 

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