UBCO AISES Chapter: A Community Led by Students for Students

The Indigenous Strategic Initiatives (ISI) Fund has begun allocating money to successful Stream 3: Student-led Projects that will further the implementation of the Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP). $500,000 was set aside to fund Student-led Projects intended to advance at least one of the ISP’s 43 actions.

The following article explores details about a successful Student-led Project: Building capacity in community outreach, professional development for Indigenous students in Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics Programs on the Okanagan Campus.

Funding Cycle2021-2022
FacultyApplied Science

This project establishes a chapter of the international non-profit American Indian Sciences and Engineering Society (AISES) at UBC Okanagan, focused on promoting excellence and increasing Indigenous representation in STEM. Funding will be used to conduct outreach STEM workshops with Indigenous youth, network with other Indigenous STEM students and professionals, host workshops and build mentorship opportunities.

Project Team

Jordyn Cates
BSc in Psychology & Biology
Incoming (September 2022) graduate student in Clinical Psychology
Elijah PatrickUndergraduate student in Civil Engineering
Lauren PitreUndergraduate student in Medical and Molecular Biochemistry
Christopher PaulBASc in Mechanical Engineering
Incoming (September 2022) graduate student in Applied Science
with support from
Joel Liman

Indigenous Student Advisor

Linked through friendship and collegiality, this project is informed by the collective experience of Jordyn, Elijah, Lauren, and Chris as part of the Indigenous Research Mentorship program and the Canadian National AISES conference in 2019. Regular and welcoming faces at Indigenous Programs & Services, these four student leaders have made this project possible by sharing ideas, dedicating their time, and collaborating with non-leadership members of the UBC Okanagan AISES chapter.

This image features the project team members together over Zoom.

Project Overview

This project aims to strengthen the voice and connection amongst Indigenous students in STEM fields. The project team was encouraged by faculty and staff to pursue funding for this project and began to engage in collaboration with other project groups. The UBC Okanagan AISES chapter hopes to remedy some of the isolation Indigenous students experience in STEM fields by bringing students together in a common space to elevate their voices, support their ambitions, and encourage prospective students. Ultimately, the project team hopes that the UBC Okanagan AISES chapter will be a part of increasing the number of Indigenous people learning and practicing in the STEM fields.

Led by students and operated for students, this project derives support from the Indigenous Programs and Services Centre and provides the opportunity for the project team to advocate for a typically underrepresented community on campus. Together, they will provide non-western scientific learning opportunities, conference experiences across the continent, and a place for students to feel welcome.

Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) Alignment

By zeroing in on developing community, this project provides abstract and physical space for practicing and celebrating culture, collaborating with other projects and services at UBC Okanagan, developing skills and opportunities, and reaching out to communities with absolute assurance that there is a community for them at UBC Okanagan.

These aspects of the community will be developed and aimed for in everything we do.

-UBC Okanagan AISES chapter leadership team
Action 21Dedicate spaces for Indigenous students, faculty and staff to practice and celebrate their cultures.
Action 25Develop Indigenous recruitment, retention and advancement policies, which strategically increase Indigenous faculty and staff numbers on both campuses.
Action 26Identify apprenticeships and new employment opportunities for members of, and in partnership with, Musqueam, the Okanagan Nation and other Indigenous communities.
Action 39Strengthen relationships with educational providers and support a comprehensive, multi-pathway approach for transitioning Indigenous students from K-12 or college to undergraduate studies, or from undergraduate studies to graduate studies.


This project will develop a welcoming community for students in the STEM fields at UBC Okanagan to make students feel welcome and invite them to reach out for help or advice, discuss problems they are facing, and seek support. In building these relationships, this project will widen the professional and academic networks of which the UBC Okanagan AISES chapter is a part.

Institutional integrity will allow for long-term leadership in this chapter as graduates go on to become professionals with the opportunity to continue engaging with the UBC Okanagan AISES chapter. Growing this community will allow this chapter to engage with Indigenous youth beyond the UBC Okanagan campus and collaborate with projects and services on campus to enrich the experience of all students at UBC Okanagan.