OISI Team


Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot

Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs

sheryl.lightfoot@ubc.ca

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

Anin! My name is Sheryl Lightfoot, and I am Anishinaabe from the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe. I am Canada Research Chair of Global Indigenous Rights and Politics and hold faculty appointments in Political Science, Indigenous Studies, and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs. My academic research focuses on Indigenous global politics, especially Indigenous rights and their implementation in global, national and regional contexts. I currently serve as the North American Member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) as well as Senior Advisor to the UBC President on Indigenous Affairs.

What is your role with OISI?

The OISI team reports to me, as Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs. I was a lead on the Indigenous Strategic Plan Team during the development of the Indigenous Strategic Plan in 2019 and 2020. I am also co-chair, with UBC-O’s Senior Advisor to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at UBC-Okanagan, of the Indigenous Strategic Plan Executive Advisory Committee (ISPEAC).   

What inspires you in this work and what do you hope to achieve?

Colonization was enabled by institutions and a legal framework that considered Indigenous peoples as less than fully human, compared to Europeans. While parts of the colonial project have been rolled back and corrected over time, many systems and structures in Canada remain deeply colonial and maintain inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Universities are part of this colonial system. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the remedy to colonial systems and structures, and implementation of Indigenous human rights is the appropriate framework for reconciliation, per the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015). As a public institution, UBC has a responsibility to advance Indigenous human rights, and the ISP is our plan to do so in a post-secondary context.  


Vicki George

Associate Director, OISI

vicki.george@ubc.ca

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

My name is Vicki Lynne George (Wet’suwet’en). I am a UBC, FNIS alumna and provided input and advice for the 2009 Aboriginal Strategic Plan. I returned to UBC in 2019 with 23 years of legal experience and I have extensive knowledge of Indigenous history, particularly in BC. I was a key team member in the development of the 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan. Since my undergrad, I’ve been a frequent guest speaker at UBC, SFU, companies and organizations sharing my practicum research project on the “Constitution Express.” I am currently working towards an MBA in Indigenous Business & Leadership. 

What is your role with OISI?

I am the Associate Director and work with an extraordinary team! I lead strategic planning initiatives, development, implementation and management of OISI and work closely with the Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs. I work with the OISI team and other groups across campus to guide and facilitate the implementation and advancement of the Indigenous Strategic Plan across portfolios, and on both campuses.

What inspires you in this work and what do you hope to achieve?

As a UBC alumna, I have far-reaching, personal experience that provides insight into the changes that must be made in order to address colonialism at institutions such as UBC.  As an undergraduate, I used my voice to prompt change and action that was desperately needed due to Indigenous students facing anti-Indigenous racism on campus and in the classrooms. My wish remains the same, I do not want future Indigenous students to deal with the same anti-Indigenous racism, emotional labour, systemic barriers and discrimination that I dealt with while studying. Education is key in order to counter colonialism and anti-Indigenous racism that Indigenous students, faculty and staff experience far too frequently. I am motivated to help implement the ISP as the action plan which will guide UBC in advancing Indigenous peoples’ human rights and make the university an environment in which Indigenous people can thrive.


Alex Ash

Indigenous Strategic Planning Manager

alex.ash@ubc.ca

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

My name is Alex Ash. I am originally from the UK but am grateful to live, work and learn as an uninvited guest on the unceded, ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Peoples. I completed my Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC before joining the ISP team in September 2019.

What is your role with OISI?

I am the Indigenous Strategic Planning Manager and I manage all projects related to the ISP. When I joined the team in 2019, I coordinated the engagement, analysis and development of the Plan. Since the launch in September 2020, I have been working with the rest of the OISI team and a number of other groups across UBC to coordinate the implementation of the ISP throughout the university. This largely involves developing the implementation toolkit and working with Faculties and units on both campuses to align their work with the goals and actions in the ISP. 

What inspires you in this work and what do you hope to achieve?

I am inspired by the willingness of so many folks to engage with the important work of the ISP and to start conversations around decolonization and Indigenous engagement. UBC still has a long way to go on its journey towards meaningful reconciliation but the motivation already shown by many of UBC’s Faculties and units to start these conversations provides me with hope that we are moving forward as an institution.


Jessie Penner

Administrative Coordinator, OISI

jessie.penner@ubc.ca

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

Shekoli, my name is Jessie Penner. I am from the Onyota’a:ka (Oneida) Nation of the Thames on my father’s side and German Mennonite ancestry on my mother’s. I have a degree in Social Development and Anthropology from the University of Waterloo and have begun a Master of Education. My professional career began in child welfare with a transition to post-secondary administration. 

What is your role with OISI?

OISI is newly developed (as of February 2021). I assist in the evolving needs of the team charged with the responsibility of guiding UBC’s implementation of the 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan. As the Administrative Coordinator, I oversee committee management of the Indigenous Strategic Plan Executive Advisory Committee (ISPEAC) and the Indigenous Strategic Plan Coordinating Committee (ISPCC), special project planning, financial budgeting and other administrative duties. 

What inspires you in this work and what do you hope to achieve?

The education sector has not been welcoming or accessible to Indigenous peoples nor their diverse ways of knowing and being. As the first person in my family to attend university, I have great concern and passion to ensure that there is representation of Indigenous peoples across all levels of post-secondary institutions. Through this work, I hope to make post-secondary a more accountable and responsive place for the generations to come.