Frequently Asked Questions



What is IRSI’s mandate?

The mandate of the Indigenous Research Support Initiative (IRSI) is to provide professional research support and services to Indigenous communities and university researchers in order that they may undertake collaborative projects based on community-led interests, reciprocal relationships, and principles of mutual accountability and understanding.

What types of support & services does IRSI provide for research collaborators?

IRSI provides professional research support and services to Indigenous communities and university researchers so they may undertake collaborative projects based on community-led interests, reciprocal relationships, and principles of mutual accountability. 

Some examples of the support & services we can provide are:

  • Serving as a point of contact for Indigenous communities and researchers making enquiries
  • Assisting with matching researchers with community research support needs and providing introductions
  • Providing education and training for researchers to enable effective collaborations 
  • Identifying potential funding sources and supporting the co-development of grant applications where requested
  • Identifying potential external partners for projects
  • Supporting the co-development of research protocol agreements, including Indigenous Community Research Protocols and Data Management Protocols
  • Supporting best practices in pre-engagement
  • Gathering feedback from collaborative research partners and developing and sharing best practices, when appropriate, based on their experiences

Learn more about IRSI's support and services for Indigenous communities and for researchers

What other work is IRSI involved in?

Along with other units at UBC, IRSI is working to assist in co-creating a research culture at UBC that supports respectful and reciprocal relationships with Indigenous partners. To this end, IRSI has held a number of community gatherings and is working to develop an Indigenous Research Framework, including co-created Principles of Engagement for Indigenous research. Learn more about the Indigenous Research Framework.

Why is there a need for an office dedicated to supporting Indigenous research at UBC?

For many years, university research has followed an extractive model, with researchers operating in circumstances of unequal power and pursuing their research agendas without regard for community needs or priorities. These practices have had detrimental impacts on Indigenous communities and led to ongoing trust issues. 

IRSI’s mandate and activities align with UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan, which identifies ‘moving Indigenous research forward’ as one of its goals. IRSI is based on the premise that more effective research and greater mutual understanding can be developed from identifying, developing, and supporting research practices that proceed from respectful relations between researchers and Indigenous communities.

When was IRSI created, and by whom?

IRSI was established in late 2016, although discussions about a need for better support for Indigenous research had already been taking place for several years at that time. In 2014, an initiative to create a dedicated unit for Indigenous community-based research support was led by a group of faculty and staff at UBC, together with Dr. Linc Kesler (then Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs) and Dr. Helen Burt (Associate VP Research & Innovation). This initiative ultimately led to IRSI’s creation as a pilot program in December 2016 and was further developed over the next 2 years with the guidance and support of an Interim Indigenous Advisory Committee. Visit the History section of this site to learn more.

Where is IRSI’s office located?

IRSI’s office is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm People, on the UBC Vancouver campus. Our address is Room 4156, 2260 West Mall. 

At UBC Okanagan, on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Syilx (Okanagan) Peoples, the Indigenous Community Liaison works out of the Office of the Vice-Principal, Research, located in FIP 318, at 3247 University Way.

Does IRSI support researchers & communities working with both UBC campuses?

Yes! We have staff working on both campuses. Please visit the People section to identify the IRSI team member who can best support you. 

How does IRSI fit within UBC?

IRSI is currently considered a “pilot program” of the portfolio of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation. In addition, the IRSI team works closely with other Indigenous-focused units on campus, collaborating to better support our community partner and faculty needs. 

Who guides IRSI’s activities?

IRSI leadership receives culturally-relevant advice, guidance and support from an Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) for the Vancouver campus. There is also an Aboriginal Advisory Council that supports the work of the UBC-Okanagan campus.

Visit the People section of this site to learn about IRSI’s current Advisory Committee members and staff. 

Does IRSI support students?

IRSI’s mandate is to support research, so we support students engaging (or looking to engage) in research with Indigenous communities. UBC graduate and undergraduate students working in any discipline are welcome to reach out to us to see how we can assist you. 

Can I apply to join the Indigenous Advisory Committee?

IRSI's Indigenous Advisory Committee members are elected for two or three-year terms, with staggered end dates. When seats are open, we distribute a call for expressions of interest on our website, social media, and internal communications channels. Feel free to direct any inquiries about upcoming openings to and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.