Indigenous Resources

The Data Science and Health (DASH) Cluster has created an information page for researchers wishing to engage with Indigenous Communities:

Link: Engaging with Indigenous Communities

The UBC Department of Medicine is situated on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil- Waututh) Nations.

The land that the UBC Vancouver and Okanagan Campuses are situated on has always been a place of learning for the Musqueam and Syilx Okanagan Nation peoples (respectively), who for millennia have passed on their traditions from one generation to the next on these sites.

This page intends to provide faculty, staff, students, trainees, and visitors in the UBC Department of Medicine a starting place to explore Indigenous history, culture, language, and resources at UBC.

For a comprehensive list of resources available, please visit UBC’s Indigenous Portal

The UBC Vancouver and Okanagan campuses are located on the traditional territories of the Musqueam and Okanagan communities. UBC has recognized its special relationships with these communities through the Memorandum of Affiliation/Understanding. These memoranda are just the record and formal base of relationships that UBC seeks to have on an ongoing and daily basis with these partners and other Aboriginal communities and organizations.

A land acknowledgement (or territorial acknowledgement) is considered a respectful, yet political, statement that acknowledges the colonial context of the Indigenous territory/territories where a gathering is taking place. It recognizes relationships between land and people and Indigenous peoples' continued presence on the lands being acknowledged.

Land acknowledgements are formal statements usually performed at the beginning of a gathering by the host of the gathering, to insert awareness of the history of land into daily life. When doing a land acknowledgement, some individuals may also situate themselves in relation to the land by mentioning their ancestry or the nation or community they belong to.

Over the past decade, land acknowledgements have become more mainstream as awareness of reconciliation and Indigenous issues has grown. There are no true "best practices" for creating a land acknowledgement, as they are all unique to the place, Nations, communities and relationships being acknowledged. However, they should be intentional, meaningful and accurate.

Land Acknowledgment Resources Available:

In the summer of 2007, UBC began the long process of developing a comprehensive framework for Aboriginal programming at the university, the Aboriginal Strategic Plan (ASP). After extensive planning, consultation, and deliberation, that plan was finalized in December 2008 and became university policy in January 2009. If you would like to know more about the process through which the plan was formed and the people who worked on it, please see the Aboriginal Strategic Plan History page.

On September 14, 2020, UBC launched its 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP). UBC has now begun to implement its Indigenous Strategic Plan, taking a leading role in the advancement of Indigenous peoples’ human rights. We are the first university in North America to commit to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and to take a human rights-based approach to our Indigenous strategic framework.

The Indigenous Strategic Plan sets out eight goals and 43 actions, which the university will collectively take to advance UBC’s vision as a leading university globally in the implementation of Indigenous peoples’ human rights. The plan’s goals and actions encompass all areas of the university and are intended as a guide for faculties and operational units to develop their own implementation plans. The plan was created with input from more than 2,500 students, faculty and staff across both campuses, including Indigenous students, faculty and staff, and Indigenous community partners. The ISP is a living document and will be reviewed every three years in consultation with the UBC community and our Indigenous partners.

ISP Implementation Toolkit

To help guide the implementation of the ISP, the Office of Indigenous Strategic Initiatives has developed a set of tools that units can use to help situate themselves in relation to Indigenous engagement and to start aligning their work with the Plan.

ISP Self-Assessment Tool
The first tool is the ISP Self-Assessment Tool which aims to provide all units with the opportunity to reflect and discuss their role at UBC within the context of Indigenous engagement.

Intent to Action Tool
The second tool is the Intent to Action Tool which provides a structure for your unit to review the Indigenous Strategic Plan, identify the goals and actions that are relevant to your unit, and assess how you can contribute to implementing your goals through some specific selected activities. This tool is made up of a Facilitator’s Guide and Workshop Slides.

Truth and Reconciliation

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) published its final report detailing the experiences and impacts of the residential school system, creating a historical record of its legacy and consequences. The TRC recorded testimony of more than 6,000 survivors affected by residential schools.

Over more than a century, it is estimated approximately 150,000 Indigenous children were separated from their families and communities and forced to attend one of 139 residential schools across Canada.

One outcome of the report was a document detailing 94 calls to action across a wide range of areas including child welfare, education, health, justice, language and culture.


On April 9, 2018, the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC was opened to the public in a ceremony that included a statement of apology, delivered by President Santa Ono, to Indian residential school survivors and, more generally, to Indigenous people, for the university’s involvement in the system that supported the operation of the schools.

The UBC Faculty of Medicine Response to the TRC Calls to Action

On June 25, 2021, The Faculty of Medicine released its Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action that commits the Faculty to bring about meaningful and beneficial change and includes a statement of apology for its contributions to past and present harms to Indigenous peoples arising from Canada’s ongoing colonial history.

The Faculty’s response specifically addresses the following calls to action:

  • #22: We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.
  •  #23: We call upon all levels of government to:
    • Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field.
    • Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities.
    • Provide cultural competency training for all healthcare professionals.
  •  #24. We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

In June of 2021, the federal government passed legislation to mark September 30, 2021 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In August 2021, the Province of BC followed suit recognizing this as a day of commemoration in the public sector. UBC will be observing this day as a holiday on both campuses and our distributed learning sites. Classes will be cancelled and university employees who are normally entitled to provincial and federal holidays will receive this day off.

On November 30, 2020, Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond released a 228-page investigative report entitled “In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-Specific Racism and Discrimination in BC Health Care” confirming the widespread existence of systemic racism experienced by Indigenous Peoples across all levels of the BC health care system. The report is based on consultations with almost 9,000 Indigenous peoples and health care workers. In Plain Sight recommends the federal government adopt Indigenous-specific health legislation, including cultural safety and anti-racism as principles of Canada’s health care system.

Engaging with Indigenous Communities

The Data Science and Health (DASH) Cluster has created an information page for researchers wishing to engage with Indigenous Communities

UBC 23 24 Indigenous Cultural Safety

The Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health’s UBC 23 24 Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) aims to prepare future health care professionals to provide quality, culturally safe care, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education

UBC's Professional Development & Community Engagement (PDCE) offer a free 6-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled "Reconciliation through Indigenous Education"

This course will help you envision how Indigenous histories, perspectives, worldviews, and approaches to learning can be made part of the work we do in classrooms, organizations, communities, and our everyday experiences in ways that are thoughtful and respectful.

Musqueam 101

Founded in 2001, Musqueam 101 is a community meal and speaker series for community members that brings together the knowledge of two communities, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm and UBC. Musqueam 101 helps build greater cross-cultural understanding and awareness of Musqueam’s rich cultural and historical legacy. It also provides an opportunity for Musqueam community members to meet educators and participate in the academic culture of UBC.

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