UBC Launches Indigenous Finance Guidelines

POE illustration
Illustration by Rohina Dass, 2018

The Indigenous Finance Guidelines have been created to address a long unresolved issue at UBC – how to better support gift giving and compensation in reciprocal, respectful, relationship-based collaborations between Indigenous partners and UBC.

As the University continues to deepen its strong commitments to Indigenous partners through, for example, the 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan, there is a growing need for comparable investment in infrastructure and resources to support the implementation of these commitments. The Indigenous Research Support Initiative (IRSI) was established as part of the VP Research and Innovation in 2016 to support research practices that enable respectful relationships between researchers and Indigenous communities. Indigenous partners and Elders, together with UBC students, staff and faculty, have approached IRSI (since IRSI’s inception) to express frustration with the current process of compensating Indigenous partners. These conversations prompted the development of a flexible payment process that IRSI piloted at community gatherings beginning in 2017. The pilot ultimately led to the creation of Indigenous Finance Guidelines with the guidance and input of Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Holders.

The Indigenous Finance Guidelines review current payment practices at UBC and highlight some of the disparities in standard processes for the disbursement of funds to Indigenous partners. The Guidelines also describe the alternative, flexible payment process piloted by IRSI and conclude with a recommended financial process for wider adoption at UBC. This recommended process includes a table of payment guidelines for respectful engagement with Indigenous Peoples.

Action #14 of the 2020 UBC Indigenous Strategic Plan calls for UBC to “Provide Indigenous Peoples engaged in research with equitable and timely compensation that recognizes the significant value of their participation to the research process and outcomes.” The Indigenous Finance Guidelines meet call to Action # 14 of the ISP and significantly change the landscape with regard to equitable and timely compensation to Indigenous partners.

Recognition and gratitude to the many advisory groups, units and portfolios at UBC as well as Indigenous Elders and partners who have supported and advocated for the Indigenous Finance Guidelines by providing extensive input, feedback and advice. The Indigenous Finance Guidelines are supported by the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) and Vice-President Finance & Operations (VPFO) portfolios.