The Indigenous Strategic Plan: An Overview

In the November edition of Edubytes, our editorial explores the development and implementation of UBC’s recently launched Indigenous Strategic Plan. Our guest editors include Alex Ash, Indigenous Strategic Planning Manager; Amy Perreault, Senior Strategist, and Bronte Burnette, Educational Resource Developer from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology’s Indigenous Initiatives; Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs; and Dr. Margaret Moss, Director and Vicki George, Assistant Director of the First Nations House of Learning.

On September 14, UBC launched its 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) — an important step on a path towards meaningful reconciliation.

In launching the ISP, we became the first university in North America to commit to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The ISP represents a university-wide response to UNDRIP and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice. It also represents the UBC Vancouver campus’ response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

The Indigenous Strategic Plan sets out eight goals and 43 actions, which the university will collectively take to advance UBC’s vision as a leading university globally in the implementation of Indigenous peoples’ human rights. The plan’s goals and actions encompass all areas of the university, and are intended as a guide for faculties and operational units to develop their own implementation plans.

It’s important to note that, while the plan is an important step, it’s one of many. A critical aspect of meaningful reconciliation is that the work of advancing Indigenous peoples’ human rights is taken on collectively, by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. For far too long, the burden of education and action against anti-Indigenous racism at UBC has fallen to Indigenous students, faculty and staff. We recognize the significant emotional labour this has demanded and want to intentionally move forward on a path of mutual accountability between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, faculty, staff and leadership to implement the plan’s goals and actions.

The journey towards meaningful reconciliation is not easy; at times it is uncomfortable, and it will take prolonged commitment. To help guide the journey, we’ve curated a number of resources for educators to begin exploring as we work to implement UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan.

Background and context

The Indigenous Strategic Plan website provides resources and information about the plan, its history and ways to begin engaging with it in a variety of capacities and contexts, including frequently asked questions (PDF). To get started, take a look at the resources below:

  • The ISP — overview video: Watch Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Dr. Margaret Moss, and President Santa Ono in this three-minute video, discussing the process of creating the ISP and how to respect Indigenous rights in the daily life of the university through respectful, reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Blue and Goldcast Episode 10: The Indigenous Strategic Plan: Listen to Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot and President Santa Ono discuss the commitment UBC has made to Indigenous peoples and the UBC community through the ISP. (Download the transcript).


Grounding and foundational knowledge

Understanding the following reports and their recommendations is foundational to understanding why the eight goals and 43 actions of the ISP are important to our campus community.


Understanding and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

Implementing UNDRIP in BC: A Discussion Paper Series: The UBC Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre periodically publishes short discussion papers. Read their work covering current and ongoing developments in institutions recognizing and implementing the fundamental human rights of Indigenous peoples.

Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples — UNDRIP Resources: UNDRIP is the most comprehensive international document addressing the human rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada also referred to UNDRIP as the only acceptable “framework for reconciliation” in Canada. Explore resources to better understand UNDRIP, including:

Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot’s Unfinished Business: Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada (PDF) essay, published this year, explores why implementation has been slow and why legislation is a necessary step towards implementing UNDRIP as a part of reconciliation.


Locating yourself and your work in the ISP

The ISP planning team is developing an implementation toolkit to help you locate yourself and your work in the ISP. If you would like to get a head start on aligning yourself and your unit with the plan, please reach out to Alex Ash to pilot our tools and provide feedback.

In the meantime, here are some resources which have helped to structure our thinking on the toolkit.


Continue your learning

Join us on Thursday, December 10 for our Indigenous Initiatives virtual coffee time to discuss the ISP with our co-editors Amy Perreault, Vicki George and Alex Ash.

To stay up to date with our events and news on Indigenous topics in teaching and learning, sign up for the Indigenous Initiatives newsletter.

The team at Indigenous Initiatives has had huge success with their workshop Sincerity, Respect, and Meaning: Virtual Land Acknowledgements at UBC, and has received multiple requests to facilitate this session for large teams across the Vancouver campus. In order to meet this demand, we’re hard at work on developing an asynchronous version of this training, and will be launching this in early 2021.

Enjoyed reading about the UBC Indigenous Strategic Plan? Learn about other topics we covered in the November 2020 edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

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