What is the ISP?

The Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) is UBC’s response to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry’s report and 231 Calls for Justice. It is an action plan which will meaningfully advance the human rights of all Indigenous people and Peoples connected to the university. It commits to 8 goals and 43 actions. 

Who made it? 

The ISP was made by the UBC community and partners. Over 2,500 people from both the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, faculty, staff and community partners, were involved in providing over 15,000 ideas, opinions and comments which structured the action plan in its current form. The analysis of data and final writing of the plan was completed by a team of UBC staff and graduate students and an external consultancy who specialize in Indigenous governance – many members of the team are also UBC alums. The development of the ISP was led by Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs and Dr. Margaret Moss, Director of the First Nations House of Learning. Implementation of the ISP is being coordinated across both UBC-V and UBC-O campuses by the Office of Indigenous Strategic Initiatives.

Why is it important? 

For many Indigenous students, faculty and staff, colonialism is a daily reality at UBC. One need not look far to recognize the value that has been placed on Eurocentric approaches to teaching and research to understand why so many do not see themselves reflected in the classroom and workplace. When Indigenous worldviews, as expressed in their own legal traditions, governance institutions and social structures, are excluded from life on campus, we deprive both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members of an understanding of what it really means to be a scholar, an inventor, an advocate, a healer and an entrepreneur, among other areas of expertise.

What will it do? 

UBC has been fortunate to be the academic home for many Indigenous people who have already taken up the work of advancing Indigenous peoples’ human rights in different ways. A core objective for this plan will be to create broader responsibility, at all levels of the university community, to advance Indigenous peoples’ rights and alleviate the onus these champions have been carrying for some time. 

What has changed since last time?

Since the previous Aboriginal Strategic Plan (2009), there have been national and global shifts in Indigenous human rights discourse and praxis. The UBC 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan will help to advance our collective goal to move beyond the implementation of program specific initiatives to lay a foundation for long-term relationships that actively advance the human rights of Indigenous peoples on campus, in Canada and across the world. 

Were Indigenous voices included in the process? 

Yes. The ISP builds on the previous work and engagement that formed the 2009 plan. The process to renew it started in 2017 when an ad hoc committee was struck, comprised predominantly of Indigenous voices from both campuses. Throughout 2019 and 2020, engagements were held with Indigenous students, faculty, staff and alumni. The ISP team also met with the Musqueam Indian Band and community members, in-person, to gather input. The ISP builds on the engagement with the Okanagan Nation Education Committee (ONEC) as well as the engagement sessions that led to UBCO’s Declaration of Truth and Reconciliation Commitments. Finally, the draft plan was presented to both Musqueam and the ONEC for their review and comment and the plan was posted online for public comment. 

How will UBC ensure that the ISP is implemented? 

Faculties and operational units are charged with the implementation of the ISP and are ultimately responsible for advancing the ISP goals and actions. To guide them in this process, there are multiple points of access across the university where they can seek advice to help them to:

  • Work through the ISP toolkit to start aligning with the ISP;
  • Incorporate relevant goals and actions in existing and upcoming strategic plans;
  • Develop annual work plans to advance their selected actions;
  • Develop performance measurement frameworks including qualitative and quantitative performance metrics; 
  • Collect baseline data to track progress; and
  • Report publicly on the achievements and challenges that come from taking the actions identified in this plan.

Where can units seek advice on implementation of the ISP?

There are numerous points across both campuses where faculties and units can seek advice on ISP implementation. 

  • The Office of Indigenous Strategic Initiatives (OISI) is a cross-campus office which can provide guidance on ISP implementation to Faculties and units from both UBC Vancouver and Okanagan. 
  • The Indigenous Strategic Plan Executive Advisory Committee (ISPEAC) is another cross-campus body. It is comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty, staff and students from UBCV and UBCO and can provide advice and feedback on specific implementation ideas and projects. 
  • The Indigenous Strategic Plan Implementation Committee (ISPIC) is a UBC Vancouver specific body which can provide advice on academic oriented implementation initiatives. 
  • The Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) is a UBC Okanagan specific body and can provide advice on any area of ISP implementation. 

Why is the ISP network structure so important for UBC?

With UBC’s unique, decentralized structure and its two campuses in Vancouver and Kelowna, there is a need for a networked leadership model for the implementation of the ISP. This new and innovative implementation model ensures that responsibility and accountability for implementation is spread across the university, with the Indigenous Strategic Plan Coordinating Committee (ISPCC) holding the ultimate accountability to show progress throughout their respective portfolios. This network model, where each Faculty and unit have the freedom to implement the Plan in their own way and which has created an interconnected committee system, has been set up to produce a structure of support and guidance for the implementation of the ISP throughout UBC. This way, no one person or portfolio is accountable for implementation and the university can work together collaboratively to advance Indigenous peoples’ human rights in alignment with UNDRIP. Learn more about the Guiding Network

How does the ISP differ from equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work?

The implementation of the Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) seeks to amplify Indigenous voices, perspectives and experiences to implement structural and innovative change that remedy the colonial experience in Canada. As such, meaningful reconciliation moves beyond equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) work and requires the acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples’ distinctive histories, experiences and lived realities associated with and impacted by colonialism. 

Of course, there are clear intersections between the work of the ISP and EDI. For instance, Indigenous voices must still be included in anti-racism conversations at UBC, specifically those pertaining to anti-Indigenous racism. Indigenous peoples’ presence must also be increased in almost all sectors of the university.  

ISP implementation emphasizes collaboration, collectivity and coordination: we are all moving in the same direction. Ultimately, the work of the ISP and EDI will move forward as a collaborative coalition. But it is important to remember that the ISP and the issues it is responding to come not only from experiences of racism and/or discrimination, but also the experiences of colonialism. It is this distinction which is crucial to understand as we move forward together, in solidarity.