UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 8 | Aug.
Campus Recruiters Step up Efforts to Attract First Nations
Traditional methods just arent working
By Brian Lin
What do a summer camp, a soccer tournament, a business program
and a Web site have in common?
They are all examples of UBCs renewed commitment to
increase aboriginal student enrolment and to support aboriginal
students at UBC.
In 1996, Dan Birch, then-VP Academic, urged the Senate to
pass the now famous one thousand by 2000 motion,
which stipulated that UBC was to recruit 1,000 First Nations
students by the year 2000.
Whatever methods were employed, we fell far short of
the target, says Herbert Rosengarten, executive director,
Office of the President, and official keeper of the Trek 2000
There are currently approximately 500 self-identified First
Nations students at UBC.
Over the last couple of years, the university has recognized
that we need to adopt very different methods if we hope to
be more successful at recruiting First Nations students,
We have to identify the communitys goals and
aspirations and be able to show aboriginal youth that higher
education is as much their right as everyone elses.
We need to work in the schools and assist potential
students to achieve the necessary standards to meet entry
requirements. We need to provide positive encouragement to
non-traditional learners and to form an alliance among the
native bands, government, and the universities to find --
and fund -- long-term solutions.
The following are highlights of some of the initiatives launched
in the past year.
Musqueam Soccer Tournament
More than 1,000 First Nations kids and their families spent
a recent weekend kicking back on UBC campus, and kicking some
The Musqueam Indian Band All Native Youth Soccer Tournament,
held June 27-29, 2003, was part of UBC Community Affairs
Bridge Through Sport program. The joint effort with the Musqueam
Indian Band brought 39 teams of aboriginal youth, aged four
to 16, onto campus, representing 15 Indian Bands across the
Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
In her opening remarks, greeting the players, UBC President
Martha Piper said that many bursaries and scholarships allocated
for aboriginal students at UBC went unused last year and encouraged
aboriginal youth to set their sights on UBC.
UBC is here for everyone and it will always have a
special place for B.C.s first peoples, said Piper.
We want to show First Nations youth what UBC has to
offer and make them feel welcome at UBC, says Community
Affairs Executive Director Sid Katz. We want them to
have fun here on campus, but more importantly, we want them
to come back, to study here.
Musqueam band manager Daryl Hargitt says the feedback from
First Nations communities has been overwhelmingly positive.
It was a great opportunity for us to share in the camaraderie,
says Hargitt. To host the tournament on traditional
Musqueam territory was very significant for the participants.
Katz says planning for next years event is already
The recent creation of aboriginal co-ordinator positions
in a number of faculties has infused new energy into aboriginal
student enrolment and support at the faculty level. The Faculty
of Science, the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and the Faculty
of Medicine are the latest to follow this trend.
Tim Michel works with both the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
and the Faculty of Science to turn the tide of minimal aboriginal
Historically, there has been one aboriginal student
entering the Faculty of Science per decade, says Michel.
On average there is only a 37 per cent high school graduation
rate, and of these aboriginal students few continue on to
university or college.
This fall, five aboriginal students will enter the Faculty
of Science, bringing the total to 21. The only aboriginal
student currently enrolled in the Faculty of Agricultural
Sciences will be joined by three to five newcomers this September,
thanks to Michels tireless work.
In addition to organizing outreach events with the Musqueam
Indian Band and other B.C. aboriginal communities, Michel
has organized a panel on aboriginal science issues, encouraging
dialogue among aboriginals in urban and rural areas, government
agencies and alumni.
The Faculty of Science is also launching a new Web site --
aboriginal.science.ubc.ca -- in September.
Well be posting information useful to aboriginal
science students at UBC and potential science students in
the K-12 system, as well as teachers and school counsellors,
says Michel. The goal is to make science at UBC more
accessible and approachable to aboriginal students.
The Faculty of Medicine hired its aboriginal programs co-ordinator
in July 2002. James Andrew, who was previously the community
liaison co-ordinator for UBCs Institute for Aboriginal
Health, says his appointment coincided with a number of admission
policy changes that encourage aboriginal students to join
the Faculty of Medicine.
For years our faculty has witnessed a severe under-representation
of aboriginal students, says Andrew. Last year
we decided to target five per cent of the annual complement
of funded seats for qualified aboriginal students.
As a result, the faculty received seven aboriginal applicants
in 2002 and 12 in 2003. Five aboriginal students will begin
medical school this fall.
Unlike other Canadian medical schools that also actively
aboriginal students, Andrew says the creation of his position
ensures that students receive support after they enter medical
school and that issues such as cultural knowledge and traditional
practice are addressed.
Aboriginal Residency Program
Launched last spring, the Aboriginal Residency Program in
the Dept. of Family Practice is a unique program that allows
medical graduates to focus special attention on aboriginal
Aboriginal people in B.C. and throughout Canada have
the poorest health status of any identifiable group in Canada,
says Dr. Isaac Sobol, director of the Division of Aboriginal
Peoples Health and the Aboriginal Residency Program.
Until now, no Canadian medical schools provided specific
training for physicians who plan to work with aboriginal individuals
In addition to specialized fields such as substance and physical
abuse, the program offers electives in aboriginal cultures,
history, and spirituality to prepare physicians to deal with
complicated issues that affect aboriginal peoples health
Many factors have contributed to the state of aboriginal
peoples health today, says Sobol. Physicians
intending to work in aboriginal communities need to be aware
of issues such as epidemics of infectious disease brought
over by Europeans, the residue of the residential schools,
and the relocation of aboriginal peoples to reserves in order
to provide care that is truly sensitive to their needs.
Dr. Shannon Waters, who graduated from UBC medical school
in 2002, was one of two candidates chosen from across Canada
to enter the program last year. So far, she has worked with
peri-natal women struggling with addictions and is planning
a trip to New Zealand to learn about indigenous health in
Ive met with aboriginal physicians from across
Canada and elders from reserves around B.C., says Waters,
of the Chemainus First Nation. The program gives us
the flexibility to address many aspects of health-care delivery
in aboriginal communities.
The Institute of Aboriginal Health will receive $1.5 million
over three years to establish the B.C. Aboriginal Capacity
and Developmental Research Environment (ACADRE).
Led by UBC, the provincial initiative joins a network of
ACADREs across Canada aimed at improving the health of aboriginal
people. It is unique in its emphasis on the development of
a community-driven research agenda.
The four main themes of the research project include: supporting
community-determined research, promoting health research training
for aboriginal people, supporting ethical research practices
inclusive of aboriginal traditional knowledge, and promoting
holistic wellness in mental health and addictions.
To date, eight research awards have been allocated, including
two undergraduate students, three masters students and three
PhD students. Six of the awards were won by UBC students.
Chinook Business Program
A new aboriginal business program will provide aboriginal
entrepreneurs with the know-how to jump-start their careers
Named after the ancient language of trade, the Chinook Aboriginal
Education initiative was launched by the Sauder School of
Business and the First Nations House of Learning on May 9,
The inaugural ceremony was attended by UBC President Martha
Piper, presidents and deans from partner colleges and leaders
in the aboriginal business community.
The program places great emphasis on aboriginal business
issues and makes business education more accessible to aboriginal
students through partnerships with six colleges across B.C.
Students can work towards a two-year Chinook Business Diploma
at Camosun College, Capilano College, College of New Caledonia,
the Institute of Indigenous Government, Langara College or
Northwest Community College, and continue on to obtain the
Bachelor of Commerce Degree, Chinook major, at UBC.
Sauder School of Business Dean Dan Muzyka says the foundation
has been laid to bring the program to fruition and to serve
the next generations.
For more information, visit www.ch-nook.ubc.ca.