Guiding Network

Our engagement process was designed to be somewhat analogous to the story of the raising of the Reconciliation Pole, installed at UBC in April 2017

ISP Implementation

The ISP Guiding Network is an innovative, networked, Indigenous human-rights based model for ISP implementation support that has:

  • An interconnected network of Indigenous-led advisory and implementation committees, both horizontally and vertically throughout UBC
  • A collective leadership model
  • Indigenous people at decision-making tables for the first time

The university-wide ISP Guiding Network builds upon the internal and external Indigenous leadership committees that already existed across both campuses and connects them into a full and robust network – horizontally and vertically – with the addition of two new committees, the Indigenous Strategic Plan Executive Advisory Committee (ISPEAC) and the Indigenous Strategic Plan Coordinating Committee (ISPCC). Both new committees, which began their work in spring 2021, mirror similar committees within the wider UBC Strategic Plan implementation process, but with an ISP-specific lens, meaning Indigenous-led and majority Indigenous membership.

Creation of the ISP Guiding Network began in spring 2020, when the ISP development team began building additional infrastructure to help guide, support and advise on ISP implementation across both campuses. Just as we had no pre-existing roadmap to follow in developing the 2020 ISP and had to innovate, there was also no pre-existing, Indigenous human rights-based model for governance of the ISP during the implementation period. As part of our ISP development process, we engaged in a comparative study of implementation models for Indigenous strategic frameworks at other universities across Canada, the US, New Zealand and Australia. We conducted an environmental scan, and we spoke confidentially with stakeholders. Internal consultations were also held between spring 2020 and spring 2021.

What we found was that, across the board, pre-existing leadership models had drawbacks that outweigh their advantages. The greatest concern with pre-existing models is that responsibilityand accountability are usually placed separately within the university’s organization, and away from the sites of budgets and decision making. Our collective conclusion was that is what was needed now, for ISP implementation at UBC, is a certain measure of structural change, grounded in Indigenous human rights, particularly the principle of Indigenous involvement in decisions that impact them, grounded in the fundamental right of Indigenous self-determination. With help from a volunteer working group of primarily Indigenous faculty and staff drawn from the pre-existing committees, we developed, by spring 2021, an Indigenous human rights-based approach to ISP implementation: the ISP Guiding Network.

The Indigenous-led network governance structure is the first of its kind in a major research university in North America. This structure is focused on a community-based, collective leadership, bottom-up approach to implementation, amplifying Indigenous voices, and with accountability spread across all levels of the university – and most importantly, at the points of decision making, budgets and authority. This model also helps reduce the burden of labour on Indigenous individuals.

Those implementing the plan are vice presidents, deans, departments and units across the university as well as the various governing bodies (i.e. Senates and the Board of Governors.) Implementing the ISP thus becomes a collective responsibility and not the actual or implied responsibility of only one or two Indigenous individuals or offices.

Each portfolio, faculty and unit will align with the ISP in their own context, and each portfolio, faculty and unit should be evaluated on their own plan’s success.

The ISP Guiding Network is embedded both horizontally and vertically across both campuses to provide support, advice and guidance to all university stakeholders, with multiple points of access.


at all levels

  • Oversight
  • Academic and policy directions
  • Funding allocations
  • Decision-making
  • Accountability
  • Monitoring
  • Advising
  • Reviewing
  • Recommending
  • Decision-making
  • Implementing
  • Collecting data


Need advice?

To get involved in implementation of the Plan, or to share your implementation stories, please email us at

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We honour, celebrate and thank the xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam) and Syilx Okanagan peoples on whose territories the main campuses of the University of British Columbia have the privilege to be situated.