Indigenous Portal

Welcome to the UBC Forestry Indigenous Portal: your pathway to learning about UBC Forestry’s commitment to Indigenous engagement and an information resource for Indigenous students. By recognizing and honouring Indigenous knowledge, culture, and history, we are fostering a more inclusive and enriched educational environment for everyone. Together, we are shaping the future of forestry where diverse voices are valued and respected. 

Talk to an advisor 

Indigenous Land Stewardship Program

Beginning September 2024, UBC Forestry will launch the Bachelor of Indigenous Land Stewardship, an interdisciplinary undergraduate program in collaboration with experts in Indigenous forestry research, governance, and policy. The degree is designed to prepare students for careers in land stewardship alongside Indigenous governments, focusing on practical, skills-based education. The curriculum covers various subjects, such as land management, ecology, remote sensing, law and governance, communications, business management, Indigenous research methods, data management, and capacity building.

Haida Gwaii Institute

In collaboration with the Haida Nation and residents of Haida Gwaii, Haida Gwaii Institute provides undergraduate courses, professional development programs, and learning opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students through online and in-person learning environments.

In partnership with Haida Gwaii Institute we have developed a flexible online micro-certificate called Co-Management of Natural Resources. This micro-certificate provides Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals with an opportunity to gain the competencies required to build and implement tools and strategies for advancing co-management initiatives, institutional and relational change, and intercultural understanding.

Centre of Indigenous Land Stewardship

The Centre of Indigenous Land Stewardship (CILS), at UBC Forestry, aspires to be a global centre of excellence, bringing Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and land ethics together with natural resource science and management. By openly sharing information and ideas, land stewardship systems will be built that are grounded in holistic land stewardship and earth-based community values.

Connecting with Indigenous Knowledge Keepers

UBC Forestry has two research forests: the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest and the Alex Fraser Research Forest.

Both forests prioritize Indigenous community involvement, allowing ceremonial practices, hunting, and gathering. Indigenous participation is also encouraged in forest management, development, and employment. Field schools and educational programs are open to Indigenous community members.

Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, established in 1949 near Maple Ridge, BC, spans 5,157 hectares of private land. It offers over 200 kilometers of trails, protecting riparian habitats, wildlife, and traditional Indigenous uses. Malcolm Knapp Research Forest maintains a strong partnership with the Katzie First Nations and other Indigenous nations.

Alex Fraser Research Forest covers 9,800 hectares of crown forest in south-central BC. It serves as a research hub and supports forest-based community education. Local Indigenous peoples have open access to the land base and its resources for traditional and cultural activities.

Indigenous Community and UBC Forestry Partnerships

Indigenous-led research and partnerships with Indigenous communities are part of what makes UBC Forestry one of the top forestry academic schools globally. Much work and investment has been directed to developing meaningful and long-term relationships and partnership with Indigenous communities. 

The examples below are just some of the projects underway at UBC Forestry: 

Assistant Professor, Danielle Ignace, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences

Dr. Ignace is an ecophysiologist and member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe (Schitsu’umsh) located in Idaho. Her research centres on integrating diverse, and often underrepresented, perspectives into forestry decision-making.  Currently, she is working with the Vuntut Gwitchin (the People of the Lakes) as part of a collaboration to identify and develop innovative approaches to meet net-zero emissions targets by 2030. This partnership involves the team at the Sustainability Hub and Climate Emergency at UBC.  Dr.  Ignace is also engaged in research on wildfires and Indigenous Knowledge. This includes collaborating with the University of California Irvine on developing the California Interdisciplinary Wildfire Research Center.

View profile

Associate Professor, Janette Bulkan, Department of Forest Resources Management

Dr.  Bulkan works with members of the Lil’wat-UBC research team to support the use of traditional medicines and enhance traditional knowledges of gender. Her research is made possible by collaborations to create a Cultural Re-Connection Classroom – a moveable classroom that is a queer-friendly and gender-inclusive space where Lil’wat community members can plan, facilitate and participate in workshops and gatherings to engage in topics related to culture, gender and sexuality.  This classroom is supported by the Lil’wat peoples traditional medicinal harvest and processing, and includes the development of a natural pharmacy of traditional medicines.

View profile

Associate Professor, Intu
(Agni Klintuni) Boedhihartono,
Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences

Dr.  Boedhihartono works with Indigenous and local communities in a range of settings across the tropics.  She and her research partners have a long-term collaboration with hunter-gatherers and semi-sedentary communities such as the Punan in North Kalimantan, Indonesia, and the Baka Pygmy in South-East Cameroon. Their research is expanding our understanding of how local and customary governance can be employed to strengthen forest and biodiversity conservation; and improve the livelihoods of forest dependent communities. In addition, Dr.  Boedhihartono collaborates with First Nation artists and members of the Aboriginal Gathering Place at Emily Car University on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council New Frontiers project on Arts & Science. The project explores the role that art can play in environmental and natural resources management, and as a means of facilitating discussions between different people with different visions and values.

View profile

Assistant Professor, Feng Jiang, Department of Wood Science

Dr. Jiang and his Sustainable Functional Biomaterials Lab is partnering with the Yinka Dene Economic Development Limited Partnership (YLP) – the commercial branch of Wet’suwet’en First Nation community – to convert   underutilized post-harvest slash into   advanced bioproducts, such as thermal insulation panels and bio-based packaging products. The outcomes of the project could include improved wildfire control, reduced slash burning-related carbon emissions, sustainable bioproducts production, a new value chain for economic development in the community and increased employment opportunities.

View profile

Associate Professor, Christopher Gaston, Department of Wood Science

Dr. Gaston has been involved in numerous projects related to wood product capacity building and market development with numerous Indigenous communities, including the West Bank, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk and Klahoose Nations. His “Opening Doors” project, a collaboration with Aboriginal Programs at Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECUAD), was a unique educational program that represented the traditional art of 10 Aboriginal communities – mostly on the BC Coast. The program involved a four-week intensive door-carving course, held at both ECUAD’s Aboriginal Gathering Place in Vancouver, BC, and the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Aboriginal Art in Terrace, BC. It continued at the UBC Centre for Advanced Wood Products (CAWP) where participants reviewed carving concepts and tools, such as digital and CNC technologies. The focus of the program supported traditional carving techniques and community capacity building through the production of limited-edition artworks.

View profile

Professor & Associate Dean, Students, Scott Hinch

The Pacific Salmon Ecology and Conservation Laboratory (PSEC; Dr. Hinch, Director), co-develops research and management advice with Indigenous groups addressing fisheries concerns in their territories (e.g. Musqueam, Secwepemc, Xeni Gweti’in, Nisga’a, and, St’át’imc First Nations; the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance). We have been learning from Indigenous knowledge holders and elders, and have co-developed Indigenous frameworks (e.g. “Two-Eyed Seeing”) for transforming Indigenous fisheries research and management dealing with log booms, culverts, dams, fish passage, and fish harvest. PSEC integrates cultural considerations and indigenous knowledge into advice for communities, and PSEC studies the science of Knowledge Mobilization and Extension helping communities and other groups to better incorporate science into management actions.

Learn more about PSEC

Assistant Professor, William Nikolakis, Department of Forest Resources Management

Dr. Nikolakis is an assistant professor of Indigenous Land and Natural Resources Governance. He practices law in British Columbia, and practiced in Australia. His focus is on the intersection between Aboriginal rights and natural resources law. He has been working with Aboriginal organizations, governments and corporations in Australia and Canada to help achieve their objectives, including gaining greater control over their economies and natural resources, and designing governance mechanisms to support these objectives.

View profile

Garry Merkel (nadi’ denezā)

Garry Merkel (nadi’ denezā) is a Tahltan forester and community leader from northwest British Columbia. With extensive experience in treaty negotiations, governance, business development, and education, he has spearheaded initiatives like the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and the Center of Indigenous Land Stewardship. Merkel’s mission is to empower Indigenous communities to shape their futures, particularly in land stewardship and community wellness. He champions the integration of Indigenous land ethics into practical stewardship systems, believing it vital for humanity to find its “proper place” within nature on a global scale. His work has garnered numerous honorary degrees and awards.

View profile

Assistant Professor, Jennifer Grenz, Department of Forest Resources Management

A proud Nlaka ‘pamux woman of mixed ancestry whose family comes from the Lytton First Nation, Dr.  Grenz’s research is expanding knowledge about novel concepts, such as Indigenous Forest Gardens, along with a number of other projects broadly in the area of invasive species.  Her work with the Lillooet Tribal Council (St’at’mc Nation) and Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society is broadening the understanding of vegetation growth trajectory responses of culturally important and invasive plant species within the McKay Creek Wildfire Area. Another of Dr. Grenz’s projects is a collaboration with the Seabird Island First Nation, Penticton Indian Band and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to understanding the impacts of invasive species on soil microbiome and implications for the recovery of traditionally important berry species.

View profile

Assistant Professor, Warren Cardinal-McTeague, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences

Dr. Cardinal-McTeague’s research centres on Indigenous relationships with the land, including plant biodiversity, Indigenous environmental management and food systems, along with the monitoring of ecosystem health and function. His research and teaching involve co-production with Indigenous communities; decolonizing science and education; Indigenous data sovereignty; leaf microbial ecology and function; remote sensing of biodiversity and ecosystem function; and plant taxonomy; and field botany, among others.  A member of the Métis and Cree communities of Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray in what is now northeastern Alberta, Dr. Cardinal-McTeague is also proudly gay, queer and two-spirit.  His approach to research and teaching blends science, art, Indigenous perspectives and the decolonial return of land and lifeways.

View profile

Professor, Lori Daniels, Dept of Forest and Conservation Sciences & Professor, Shannon Hagerman, Dept of Forest Resources Management

Along with their research teams, Drs. Daniels and Hagerman   are conducting several collaborative projects relate to wildfire knowledge, science and management. Their research is guided by the concept of ‘walking on two legs’, articulated by Secwépemc Elder Ronald E. Ignace, as an Indigenous-centered model for research and practice, in which Western science is balanced and guided by Indigenous knowledges. Their reconstruction of historical fire regimes was supported by oral accounts of cultural fire stewardship on the traditional territories of the Ktunaxa, Okanagan and Secwépemc People, enhanced by knowledge shared by T’exelc (Williams Lake), St’uxwtews (Bonaparte) and Skeetchestn Elders.  Ongoing research projects co-developed with the Stswecem’c Xget’tem First Nations, St’uxwtews First Nation and the Gitanyow Nation address historical fire regimes to support the (re)introduction of Indigenous fire stewardship.

View Lori’s profile View Shannon’s profile

Professor, Tara Martin, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences

Dr.  Martin’s Central Coast Cumulative Effects Project is an invited collaboration of the Kitasoo Xai’xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations in the region of the Central Coast of what is now known as British Columbia, Canada.  Their goal is to provide a regional cumulative effects assessment that is driven by local values and knowledge, to support decision-making in the management of adverse consequences of cumulative effects, now and over the next 25 years. Other projects led by Dr. Martin include an invited collaboration with WSANEC Leadership Council, as well as the Cowichan and Penelakut Nations, to map the historic distribution of Garry oak ecosystems, to predict their cumulative threats, and identify stewardship actions for their recovery. Dr. Martin’s collaboration with the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance and partner nations is informing cost-effective management for species at risk, including salmon, and building a blueprint for co-governance.

View profile

Professor, Gary Bull, Department of Forest Resources Management

Dr. Bull is currently working on a land management employment plan with the Ulkatcho First Nations in Anaheim Lake. As well, Dr. Bull is leading a land management process with the City of Revelstoke, local community forests and six local First Nations to develop a First Nations-led land management plan in conjunction with all local wood manufacturers and backcountry recreationists.

View profile

Lecturer, Teresa Ryan (Sm’hayetsk), Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences

Dr. Ryan’s current research investigates the relationships between salmon and forests, and the potential to restore salmon abundance by using ancient fishing technology and strategies. Her dissertation explored ecological-social institution linkages and the connection of these complex adaptive systems to heterogeneous mosaic landscapes. She demonstrated how thousands of years of sustainable use based on Ancestral knowledge of cyclic resource production and variability was an intuitive component of Indigenous stewardship.

View profile

Director, Indigenous and Intercultural Initiatives, Carlos Ormond

As the Director of Indigenous and Intercultural Initiatives, Dr. Ormond plays a prominent role in UBC Forestry’s Bachelor of Indigenous Land Stewardship; a supporting role to Dr. Garry Merkel with the Centre for Indigenous Land Stewardship; along with involvement in other initiatives that increase the accessibility of UBC Forestry programming to Indigenous, local, and international communities; and, strengthen UBC Forestry’s relationship with community partners.

View profile

Life at UBC

Explore admissions, awards, on-campus spaces, and other programs and services for Indigenous students at UBC.

Learn More

First Nations House of Learning

Receive a number of support services, including writing and math tutoring, financial advising, access to accredited counsellors, and more.

Learn More

Access the UBC Indigenous Portal

Find information about Indigenous programs, initiatives, research, and services that are available on the UBC Vancouver campus.

Learn More

College Transfer Programs

Learn about local community college opportunities through the Faculty of Forestry’s partnerships for students to transfer to UBC.

Learn More

Talk to an Advisor

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.