Tl’etinqox First Nation Chief Joe Alphonse, seen here in July 2017 as wildfires approached his community,recently underwent open heart surgery, and said while his recovery has been off to a good start prayers and good energy are still needed and appreciated. (Angie Mindus - Williams Lake Tribune file photo)

Tl’etinqox chief and TNG tribal chair recovering after ‘life-altering’ open heart surgery

Chief Joe Alphonse broke his silence on his health situation Thursday, July 30

The tribal chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government, who represents six communities west of Williams Lake, and chief is acknowledging and thanking everyone who sent prayers and well wishes to him following a recent heart attack and emergency open heart surgery.

Tl’etinqox (Anaham) Chief Joe Alphonse said it is always great to know that so many people care and are considering him in his current situation.

Read More: B.C. Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse urges caution amid COVID-19

“I have gone through a life-altering experience,” he said in a community update posted by Tl’etinqox Government on Thursday, July 30.

“For the last three years, I have have been experiencing low-energy levels and seeing doctors and getting various tests and nothing showed up. Over the last month, my stamina and my breathing, had become an issue. After my third visit to the ER in three days, they finally took blood work and determined that I had a mild heart attack.”

After being flown to Kelowna General Hospital, Alphonse underwent open-heart surgery.

“It was a big operation, but a successful one, ” he said, noting there were some struggles and complications in stabilizing him.

Read More: B.C. First Nation breaks ground on $4.5 million gas bar in the Chilcotin

Alphonse, who has been at home now for the past two and a half weeks, said doctors have indicated he is healing well.

“I was told to expect to take at least three months to recover,” he said of the slow, but steady and gradual recovery process. “This Friday (July 31) will make it four-weeks since the operation.”

In the absence of Alphonse, Tl’etinqox Government executive director and councillor, Ashton Harry said she and the other 11 members of council will continue to serve the community. Any political or policy decisions will require a seven-person quorum.

“If all continues to go well, I plan on returning after Thanksgiving,” said Alphonse, adding he will be self- isolating and limiting any visitations until he achieves at least eight weeks of full recovery.

“For the last three years, I feel like I have been operating at 50 per cent energy levels and I am told that after full recovery from this surgery, that my energy will be 100 per cent once again. I am excited to get back to that place.”

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