Indigenous Fisheries Action at UBC

The Indigenous Strategic Initiatives (ISI) Fund has begun allocating money to successful Stream 2: Transformative Projects that will further the implementation of the Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP). $1.5 million was set aside to fund Transformative Projects intended to advance one of the ISP’s six priority actions.

The following article explores details about a successful Transformative Project: Transforming the “UBC IOF Aboriginal Fisheries Research Unit Strategic Plan 2017” into Indigenous Fisheries Action at UBC.

Funding Cycle2021-2022
UnitInstitute for the Oceans and Fisheries

In 2017-18, the “UBC IOF Aboriginal Fisheries Research Unit (AFRU) Strategic Plan 2017” was approved by the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, followed by the Faculty of Science. This project translates the strategic goals of this plan into actionable steps that advance the goals of UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.

Project Team

The project team is excited for what they can achieve through the proposed activities as a collaborative Centre for Indigenous Fisheries (CIF) team of faculty, researchers, students, staff, and community members.

Dr. Dianne NewellProfessor Emerita; Interim Director, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries
Dr. Andrea Reid
Nisga’a Nation
Assistant Professor; Principal Investigator, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries
Dr. Elizabeth NyboerPost-doctoral Fellow, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries
Alexander Duncan
Chippewas of Nawash
Unceded First Nation
PhD student, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries
Kate MussettMSc student, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries
Kasey M. Stirling
Nlaka’pamux, Mi’kmaq
MSc student, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries
Nicole JungResearch Assistant, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries
Colton Van Der Minne
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation
Honour Student, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries
Peggy HomanAdministrative Coordinator, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries

Project Team

The UBC IOF Aboriginal Fisheries Research Unit Strategic Plan set an agenda for the IOF “to fulfill and strengthen its commitment to working with Aboriginal peoples in Canada,” including appointing faculty to launch and lead this initiative and hiring a coordinator. It identified the need for an Advisory Committee, a Resident Community Expert, and various community-building activities. It also put forward four core goals, with strong strategic alignment with UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan, with a focus on fisheries. The project team are now poised to transform the strategic plan into an Indigenous fisheries action plan that challenges the norm of how university-community relationships have traditionally been navigated at UBC.

It is precisely the reality that Aboriginal fisheries education and issues are rarely considered at UBC that the CIF is working to change. We are motivated to raise collective awareness of the importance of Indigenous fisheries across BC and beyond, to make legible what Indigenous fishing rights are and entail, and to deliver collaborative science that is with and for Indigenous communities and partners.

-Project Team

Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) Alignment

Through creation of an Indigenous Advisory Council; a Members-in-Residence program for a community member and an Artist to hold annual paid appointments, and hosting an Annual Partners Gathering to convene all of the relevant partners, ISI Fund support will directly: enrich the collaborative research environment for students in the unit and department; compensate Indigenous partners for their involvement in these efforts; and, critically, help us establish a cultural expert program that brings in knowledge holders from partnering Nations to share knowledge and guidance on the UBC Vancouver campus. Each action will enrich Indigenous student recruitment, experience, and retention.

Goal 6Recruiting Indigenous people.
Position UBC as the most accessible large research university globally for Indigenous students, faculty and staff.
Action 12Support research opportunities for students to become global leaders in the advancement of Indigenous knowledge systems in health, governance, education, law, business, the sciences, the arts and Indigenous languages.
Action 14Provide Indigenous people who are engaged in research with equitable and timely compensation that recognizes the significant value of their participation to the research process and outcomes.
Action 20Establish a cultural expert program that brings Musqueam, Okanagan Nation and other interested nations’ cultural experts and Indigenous knowledge holders to the UBC campuses to work, teach and promote their expertise.


The immediate benefits of these priority actions include the formation of an Indigenous fisheries expert network, the appointment of Members (in-residence) that will themselves generate novel outputs (e.g. artwork) carrying various benefits and connect with individuals’ emotional intellect as a means of communicating the work an outcomes of CIF research, teaching, and outreach. Indigenous partners will be appropriately recognized for the significant value their participation adds to the research process and its outcomes in the CIF. By centering Indigenous scholarship, expertise, and lived experiences in the activities undertaken in the CIF, knowledge forms are recognized not only as valid, but as highly valued.

Centre MSc students Kate Mussett (left) and Kasey Stirling (centre) with Dr. Andrea Reid (right) ‘in the field.’

Perhaps our actions will serve as a model for other research groups looking to engage meaningfully in creative ways with Indigenous partners, especially in the realms of fisheries and aquatic sciences. Each of these actions will bolster the work we able to do and the change we are able to effect through the CIF, enhancing our ability to address expressed community needs and interests. Currently, we are known as a new, exciting Centre with promise – but through sustaining these and other activities, we hope to become known for the positive changes we make with our partners that sincerely benefit fish, people, and place.

-Project Team