Race, Indigeneity and Social Justice

On Mar. 5 the Honourable Janet Austin hosted a panel on “Igniting Greater Civic Engagement in Our Community, Our Province.” Guest speakers discussed equity, diversity, inclusion; democracy and civic engagement; and reconciliation.

Anti-Racist Commitment

Faculty and staff of the Okanagan School of Education are committed to fostering genuine dialogue around issues of racial injustice in education with educators, students, colleagues, and the greater community—bringing to bear policies and practices in our local and global institutions. We aim to empower educators and their students to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice in school and community settings, and invest in developing more democratic and more just societies.

Our hopes calling us to actions are to:

  • Realize more sustainable intellectual, ecological, and cultural diversity, and more appreciation for gender identities, sexual orientation, peoples of colour, and the natural world
  • Gain greater conscientiousness about inequalities that arise from social class differences and social stratification
  • Transform patterns of intolerance (including but not limited to intolerance towards different intellectual and political viewpoints/traditions), exploitation and homogenization, towards patterns of respect, appreciation, and diversities
  • Foster interdependent, caring relationships between humans and the natural world, and between diverse individuals and communities
  • Learn from the past, stay alert in the present, and continuously create a just and sustaining world, for the children now and for future generations; for peoples to be

Indigenous Pedagogy within our coursework

Dr. Bill Cohen, Assistant Professor, developed a statement of what it means to Indigenize education and we have incorporated that text in all our undergraduate course syllabi. Increasingly, with Dr. Cohen’s permission, we are referring to and including this text in other program curriculum documents.

Way̓ kʷlncutn, kʷu ksxelpínaʔ kʷu x ̌ ʷəlx ̌ ʷalt ̌

(Greetings to all of creation, we are coming alive with the new day)

This greeting is an example of a ritualized Indigenizing understanding by Syilx Okanagan that acknowledges we (humans) are part of creation and have much to appreciate and responsibly look forward to every day.

Why indigenize? Who is Indigenization for? Indigenization is about continuous healthy diversity of cultures and ecosystems, a pedagogy and praxis of dynamic balance between human lifeways and natural world ecologies. Indigenization is about appreciating difference and diversity, appreciating the gifts from the tmixʷ (water, earth, plant and animal life forces) and ensuring those gifts continue for the peoples to be. Indigenization in the Okanagan is about respectfully connecting ourselves and children to each other and to this place, this territorial ecology and positioning ourselves more responsibly to the peoples to be. The Syilx Okanagan, in whose traditional territory we are situated, have been practicing Syilx Indigenization for millennia, so it is pragmatic, humanizing, and critical in this era of fires, floods, pandemics, racialized violence, violence against women and the earth, to learn from and with Syilx peoples so future generations can live well. Indigenization is for all peoples and communities so we can have a future.

Indigenization in the Okanagan School of Education involves connecting to Syilx and Indigenous peoples, pedagogy and resources throughout all courses and terms to transform destructive aspects of schooling and knowledge production. Diversity and inclusion ritualized into practice–made a part of our collective everyday lives–means our collective intellectual and creative potential is much greater with women and Indigenous peoples contributing to the knowledge and wisdom our children have access to.

This course is taught with intention following the First Peoples Principles of Learning:

  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational (focused on connectedness, on reciprocal relationships, and a sense of place)
  • Learning involves patience and time

Faculty of Education Task Force on Race, Indigeneity and Social Justice

The Faculty of Education’s Task Force on Race, Indigeneity and Social Justice delivered its final report, which includes 12 clusters of themed recommendations, to Dean Blye Frank on June 28, 2021. The report identifies barriers that prevent or discourage the realization of equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization for Indigenous and racialized people, as well as for people from other equity-deserving groups.

Review the Report


Solidarity & Action: Five Tips on Tackling Racism  | UBC Equity

Sustainable Self-Care: Finding Serenity in Times of Stress | UBC Equity

Ally Resources For Supporters Of Black Lives Matter | SWAAY (June 4, 2020)

Worth the Risk: Towards Decentring Whiteness in English Language TeachingBC TEAL Journal | Gerald, J. (2020)

Protests, donations, lesson plans: How the education world is responding to George Floyd’s killing | Matt Barnum and Kalyn Belsha (2020)

How NYC Students and Teachers are Making Sense of George Floyd’s Killing | Alex Zimmerman and Reema Amin (2020)

Place, Land, and the Decolonization of the Settler Soul | David Addington Greenwood (2020)

Standing in Solidarity with our Black Colleagues and Black Community in the United States | Dr. Africa Stewart (2020)

Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston | Jon Greenberg (2015)

Settler Traditions of Place: Making Explicit the Epistemological Legacy of White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism for Place-Based Education | Gardner Seawright (2014)

Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy | Gloria Ladson-Billings (1995)

Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics | Kimberle Crenshaw (1989)

Decolonization is not a metaphor | Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang (2012)

How to talk to kids about race, and why you should start now | Dr. Handel Wright

The push for more Black history curriculum in British Columbia schools | Dr. Annette Henry

White people have to step up to identify systemic racism in Canada | Dr. Michelle Stack

We must tackle and dismantle systemic racism and white supremacy | Dr. Bathseba Opini

The road to allyship: Breaking down anti-Black sentiments across cultures | Dr. Handel Wright

Historical, Systemic and Intersectional Anti-racism Awareness

The department of Professional Development and Community Engagement have developed this free online course.

This course will systemically cover and uncover implicit and explicit forms of historic, systemic and institutional racisms and their colonial and intersectional impacts on marginalized peoples and their communities in the past and in contemporary times.

Learn more

Different together: Can we make it happen?

On June 11, the UBC community joined together for a conversation inspired by the global anti-racism protests, and BC’s #DifferentTogether pledge.

Watch the Recording

The Potential for Black Studies Programs in Canada

A talk with Professor Andrea A.Davis, York University and Professor Handel Kashope Wright, UBC Vancouver

Watch the Recording

You’re not crazy, you’re not wrong: Hearing experiences of people of colour in the University

A talk with Professor Anthony Stewart, John P. Crozer Chair of English Literature, Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, USA

Watch the Recording