James Waldram is an internationally renowned medical anthropologist whose scholarly work is seen as the gold standard of knowledge about Indigenous/First Nations health and healing. In fact, he is regarded as a pioneer in Aboriginal research in Canada.
His insight into the efficacy of traditional healing methods and the complex physiological, spiritual, cultural and historical factors that influence health and wellness among Aboriginal Peoples has informed Indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians alike.
Waldram’s research reaches beyond Canada’s borders. His work aims to help re-stabilize Indigenous societies around the world after centuries of what he sees as damaging, colonialist government policies affecting the health of their communities.
He seeks to provide insight into the lived experiences of those involved in contemporary forms of healing. Much of his work has been in collaboration with Indigenous peoples across Canada and in Central America—in clinics, prisons, hospitals and Indigenous communities.
As a testament to the esteem in which he is held by Indigenous peoples around the world, Waldram was invited to lead a research team by a group of traditional healers among the Maya of Belize. One result of his extensive work with Maya healers is his recent film: Healthy People, Beautiful Life: Maya Healers of Belize. It was produced under the direction of the Maya Healers’ Association of Belize, distributed widely in that country and posted on Vimeo to ensure broader access. It documents Q’eqchi’ medical knowledge and practice as it exists today, and identifies the challenges the Q’eqchi’ face in their efforts to maintain their healing and cultural traditions.
Waldram is a professor of anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan. He is the author of 14 books and 19 book chapters on Aboriginal health and healing, several of which are used in universities across North America and Australia, and more than 40 journal articles. He has also mentored many graduate students in this field of study, and has received numerous honours, including a fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada.