UBC Okanagan has created a new pathway for students pursuing Indigenous studies, announcing that applications are now open for the Indigenous Knowledges theme in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies programs.
The program—iʔ sqilxʷ aʔ cmiy̓ t scmypnwíłnsəlx in Nsyilxcn—marks a significant stride in embedding Indigenous perspectives and wisdom within higher education. UBC Okanagan is the first in Canada to offer Indigenous Knowledges master’s and doctorate degrees.
UBC Okanagan’s approach to Indigenous academic programming is deeply rooted in partnership and leadership by Indigenous faculty and communities. These programs are designed to be respectful and reflective of Indigenous perspectives and knowledge systems, and are driven by those that represent their communities both on and off campus.
“Inspired by Indigenous philosophy, our program encourages students to consider ‘all our relations’ and live in harmony with the land,” says Dr. Shawn Wilson, an Associate Professor in Indigenous Studies and Program Director. “Indigenous Knowledges and languages are not just academic subjects; they are life practices emerging from deep relationships between our peoples and the land.”
The Indigenous Knowledges theme is designed to revitalize traditional Indigenous knowledge systems and languages, inspire actions to address contemporary challenges, and co-create new Indigenous knowledge. Faculty and students in the program draw on Indigenous pedagogy and methodologies, working closely with the Land, Elders and communities.
“We aim to support our students and their communities to enable Indigenous governance systems, promote health and wellbeing, and contribute to ecological restoration, among other critical areas,” stated Dr. Mike Evans, an Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
“Our faculty’s expertise and Indigenous methodologies form the foundation for a rich, interdisciplinary approach to contemporary issues.”
Courses blend Indigenous ways of knowing with traditional academic disciplines, offering research opportunities in language recovery, cultural revitalization and environmental stewardship.
The program draws from years of experience applying Indigenous Knowledges in a real-world context, led by nationally and internationally recognized researchers such as Dr. Jeannette Armstrong.
“Our Indigenous languages are informed by countless generations of specific knowledges arising from the lands which now require the best Indigenous science interventions,” Dr. Armstrong says.
The program emphasizes hands-on community engagement, encouraging students to apply their learning within local Indigenous communities and maintain connections to their cultural roots.
Research spans community development, Indigenous physical sciences, health and wellbeing, grounded in Indigenous theory, methodologies and philosophies.
UBC Okanagan’s Indigenous Knowledges theme reflects the university’s commitment to reconciliation and inclusive education.
“Our program is not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about fostering holistic wellbeing, as well as nurturing academic and research excellence,” Dr. Wilson adds. “We care deeply about our students’ experiential learning and their connections within and beyond the program.”
To find out more, visit: gradstudies.ok.ubc.ca/igs/indigenous-knowledges.