Responding to the Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP)

The Department of Physical Therapy participated in the UBC Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) Self-Assessment Tool which was provided as part of the UBC ISP. This tool allows units to reflect and discuss their role at UBC within the context of Indigenous engagement. The Self-Assessment process was completed in 2022 and helped to situate the Department of Physical Therapy with ISP goals and actions.

The ISP process required several discussion meetings which were organized within department Committees to allow space for dialogue amongst members. This resulted in a report being released in October 2022 providing background information, the process and results of the self-assessment, and the recommendations based on those results. The recommendations included 38 Committee-specific and “Other” or departmental-wide items. The committees included the Admissions Committee, Administrative Staff Committee, Curriculum Committee, Awards and Research Committees, and the MPT Program Committee. The MPT Program Committee’s recommendations were submitted in February 2023, adding 6 recommendations.

Department of Physical Therapy ISP Self-Assessment Report

Additional Recommendations from the MPT Program Committee

ISP Goal Alignment

Our department is dedicated to advancing Indigenous initiatives through the UBC strategic plan. Guided by UBC’s commitment to honour and support Indigenous communities, our goals are rooted in fostering meaningful change, promoting cultural awareness, and creating pathways for Indigenous knowledge and perspectives to thrive within our academic environment. Read what actions our department has taken so far towards the ISP below as we endeavour to build stronger relationships, advocate for equity, and integrate Indigenous values into all of our academic pursuits.

Goal 1

Leading at all levels: Prioritize the advancement of Indigenous people’s human rights and respect for Indigenous peoples at all levels of UBC’s leadership and accountability structure.

  • Action 1 We have Indigenous-focused committees, advisories (Initiatives for Indigenous Advocacy Committee (IIAC), Admissions, Curriculum)
  • Action 2 Our strategic plans include commitments to Indigenous engagement and the advancement of Indigenous peoples’ human rights. We consult with the FoM Indigenous Initiatives Associate Director and the Indigenous Engagement Director when implementing various strategies.
  • Action 3 Budget has been allocated to support the hiring of an Indigenous Initiatives Manager who helps to implement the various Indigenous Strategic Plan actions, including those set out in the department’s own Self-Assessment Recommendations
  • Action 4 Department Leadership engages with the FoM Indigenous Initiatives Director and the Indigenous Engagement Director when implementing various strategies.
Goal 2

Advocating for the truth: Facilitate open public dialogue about truth, reconciliation and the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ human rights.

  • Action 7 During the MPT Orientation a Musqueam Elder has been invited to welcome students to UBC, specifically the UBC Point Grey Campus which is located on the unceded territories of the Musqueam people. Faculty members from other distributed sites also conduct land acknowledgement from where they are, and planning is underway to build relationships with Elders in each of the distributed regions and include a more fulsome discussion about what it means to be learning and practicing in those territories.
  • Action 8 The departmental website hosts a number of educational resources regarding Indigenous health and cultural safety. The department has also hosted a number of workshops geared towards Physical Therapists on these topics.
Goal 3

Moving research forward: Support research initiatives that are reciprocal, community-led, legitimize Indigenous ways of knowing and promote Indigenous peoples’ self-determination.

  • Action 10 The Department has included within its strategic plan to “engage in partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and communities to further research in rehabilitation as identified through the partnership.” There are specific faculty within the department who work closely with Indigenous communities and organizations
  • Action 12 Some of our Faculty maintain longstanding research partnerships with various Indigenous organizations and communities; this in turn offers opportunities for students to engage and support the advancement of Indigenous knowledge systems in health and sciences.
Goal 4

Indigenizing our curriculum: Include Indigenous ways of knowing, culture, histories, experiences and worldviews in curriculum delivered across Faculties, programs and campuses.

  • Action 15 The department is currently undertaking a full curriculum review of the MPT program. We are engaging in various learning opportunities and working with Indigenous peoples to ensure that Indigenous histories, experiences, worldviews and knowledge systems are appropriately integrated so that we further our compliance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
  • Action 16 As part of this review, we are considering the option of including a one-credit course that would involve substantive content which explores Indigenous histories and identifies how Indigenous issues intersect with Physical Therapy. However, our intention is that all courses will hold adequate content across amounting to a substantial presence of Indigenous content.
  • Action 17 As mentioned, we are working with Indigenous peoples to support our curriculum work. In doing so we are ensuring to provide equitable and timely financial compensation.
Goal 5

Enriching our spaces: Enrich the UBC campus landscape with a stronger Indigenous presence.

  • Action 21 The Indigenous Initiatives Manager has moved their office into the main hallway of Friedman to be more visible to Indigenous students. This office is shared with the clinical counsellor and students may drop in to find resources or chat about their experiences.
  • Action 23 The department is keeping a list of Indigenous businesses and prioritizes them for the provision of goods and services.
Goal 6

Recruiting Indigenous People

  • Action 24  Department Head has committed to advocating for recognition of excellence in Indigenizing teaching curriculum and research in our departmental Merit committee.
Goal 7

Providing tools for success: Forge a network of Indigenous peoples’ human rights resources for students, faculty, staff and communities.

  • Action 32 Indigenous MPT students have access to a canvas page which is used to communicate Indigenous initiatives and supports across UBC and our distributed sites. It includes information such as scholarships, events, wellness supports, and relevant documents.
  • Action 33 The department supports faculty and staff in engaging in educational opportunities that foster safe and inclusive classrooms and workplaces. This includes promoting external opportunities available through UBC or elsewhere and hosting our own workshops.
  • Action 34 These opportunities included hosting the workshop: Introduction to Indigenous Cultural Safety for staff, faculty, and other affiliated with our department (e.g. preceptors and their colleagues).
Goal 8

Creating a holistic system of support: Provide exceptional and culturally supportive services for Indigenous students, faculty, staff and communities.

  • Action 38 While there has yet to be a comprehensive review, the department is amending policies that do not support equity and inclusion of Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and community members, as well as other diverse peoples.
  • Action 39 We are building relationships with undergraduate programs across UBC and other colleges and universities to make our Indigenous pathway known. We are also showcasing Physical Therapy as a career at Indigenous youth events like Gathering Our Voices.

Personal Reflections

One year after the department participated in the ISP Self-Assessment, a request was sent out to our team of staff and faculty to share personal reflections from their experience during the assessment. The purpose of this survey was to gather feedback about how employees feel about the initiatives thus far, to gauge their awareness, and to learn what we could do to improve. Here are a few of those reflections:

How did the ISP Self-Assessment Process impact you?

It provided time to reflect on my own biases and problems around not having an adequate understanding of the lived experience of Indigenous people.

At the time of the self-assessment, I did not feel that I understood or knew about the department’s Indigenous initiatives or resources. Additionally, I had not fully considered or recognized the lasting effects that colonization has had on Indigenous Health.

It was both enlightening and in places, quite disappointing to see where we were at. I felt that the process was impactful in my personal learning / unlearning journey.

I learned about myself, my assumptions, and my blind spots, and then thinking about what we needed to change within the department and what the department look like if we made some of the changes we needed to make. I witnessed resistance to self-reflection, to change, from members in the department which saddened me and made me frustrated.

It was very helpful to walk through the process especially with others to see where we were at. Since this is new for me, I appreciated the criteria as a guide. It helps to have prompts about what we should consider. I was happy that we had moved at least a bit forward on most things.

The ISP Self-Assessment Process was deeply impactful for me, but it has also had a resounding effect on the department as a whole. I was deeply moved by the authentic way that Simone led the sessions. Simone wove real stories into the process, connecting us directly to lives that have been impacted by anti-Indigenous oppression and racism.

The meetings were infused with a sense of purpose and the calls to action from the TRC, the In Plain Sight Report, as well as calls from within the physiotherapy community such as Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada. Colleagues who I normally see in the course of business at work were sitting down to openly discuss uncomfortable truths about the society we live in, our role in it as settlers, and its relation with Indigenous people. Among many other issues, I remember that we talked openly about the anti-Indigenous racism in our healthcare system, as exposed by the In Plain Sight report. It put us in a vulnerable position, but one where we could be honest about the need for change and our responsibility in creating that change. And of course, it focused us on specifically what actions our department needs to focus on to help UBC achieve its ISP commitments.

After going through the ISP Self-Assessment, were you inspired to change anything?

Lots!!!!! and the framework helps to give some focus to those changes. Not everything is part of my role in the department but the things that I need to work on are clear.

Admissions policies, Indigenous hiring, curriculum, Indigenous student support, commitment to cultural safety training and education across the department.

Yes! In going through the process, I felt greater confidence in pushing initiatives forward, and more comfortable in my discomfort.

Yes, it was a process that worked effectively and resulted in some changed attitudes. I hope to consider ways to model the changes we want to see, especially in committees and in processes within the department.

I was inspired to learn more about the department’s strategic plans and actively engage in discussions and working groups to better understand and contribute to the department’s goals and actions. Through discussions brought up as part of the self-assessment, I was introduced to the term two-eyed seeing which was described as a way to recognize gaps in health outcomes for Indigenous people. I felt a connection to this term as I am new in my journey of understanding the effects of colonialism and felt empowered by the imagery of viewing the world with both my understanding (western mentality) while also trying to learn to see through the lens of an Indigenous perspective.

I try to be more aware of the potential for my unconscious biases when interacting with people, especially people I do not know well