UBC Okanagan in early stages of developing Indigenous Go Global program

UBC Okanagan (UBCO) is hoping to launch an Indigenous Go Global program in summer 2023, with the aim of giving Indigenous students the opportunity to connect with Indigenous communities across Canada, North America and the world.

The campus’s Arts and Social Sciences Dean, Silvia Tomášková, presented the program’s plan to UBC’s Board of Governors in late November, as one of multiple Indigenous initiatives within the faculty of arts and social sciences.

Stemming from the traditional Go Global program, which offers global research, overseas seminars and exchange opportunities, the Indigenous Go Global program intends to offer similar “transformative” opportunities to students, but through an Indigenous lens. For example, through virtual and in-person experiences and community engagement in this program, Indigenous students can gain personal, cultural and academic connections with Indigenous communities around the world.

In a statement, the Dean’s office said it hopes that the program will, overall, give students at UBC a chance to deepen their understanding of Indigenous histories and cultures, gaining new perspectives and awareness for the various contexts Indigenous communities live in.

“By expanding opportunities for UBCO Indigenous students and increasing awareness of Indigeneity in other contexts, the program will provide UBC students with deeper perspectives and understanding of Indigenous histories and lives around the globe,” read the statement, outlining the needs that this program intends to meet.

The Dean’s office also stated that following consultation, UBCO hopes the program will help address obstacles that may stand in the way of Indigenous students hoping to pursue Go Global’s traditional format, filling an unmet need for the Indigenous community at UBCO.

Tomášková appears to be spearheading the project with hopes that despite the potential for economic and social barriers, all students can engage with experiential learning opportunities. These hopes also can be drawn from UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan which expressed a need for all students, faculty and staff to “have every opportunity to thrive.”

Steps to implement the program are already underway, including expanding on pre-existing connections in Australia and New Zealand, as well as establishing new connections. President Santa Ono expressed support for the program at the Board meeting.

“Planning for the Indigenous Go Global program is in its very earliest stages,” said the Dean’s office, speaking to consultations with existing Indigenous Programs and Services department and Go Global offices. “We expect to share more about this program in the months to come.”