British Columbia

UBC Sauder School of Business professor calls for mandatory Aboriginal courses

A UBC business professor wants to see mandatory courses on Aboriginal studies implemented in her school's curriculum to fulfil recommendations outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

'We need to have a course of our own just like we need to renew nation to nation relations in this country'

Adjunct professor Doctor Amie Wolf wants to see more Aboriginal courses included in the curriculum at UBC's business school. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A UBC business professor wants to see mandatory courses on Aboriginal studies implemented in her school's curriculum to fulfil recommendations outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Adjunct professor Amie Wolf says she has been pushing for the mandatory programming at the Sauder School of Business since last year.

"I think there's a feeling that if it was made mandatory, that would be too heavy-handed or make the school somehow a less desirable choice, maybe in particular for international students," Wolf said.

Amie Wolf is an adjunct professor at UBC's Sauder School of Business. (UBC)

As business booms in B.C., Wolf sees a genuine need to educate students on conducting culturally respectful business in Canada.

Wolf highlighted the Site C Dam project, the Mount Polley Mine disaster, and the recent eviction notice served to fish farmers in B.C. as prominent situations where First Nations voices aren't being respected in business negotiations.

"That's really what a mandatory course is about — it's extremely political and it has to do with economic interests of First Nations," she said.

Relating on a nation to nation basis

Over the last two years, Wolf, a member of the Mi'kmaq First Nation, has lead a mandatory research project as part of a business writing class that all undergraduates take during their time at Sauder.

It's a small piece of a larger picture through which Wolf hopes to pique students' interest and desire for Aboriginal studies. But what she wants to see are courses added to the curriculum that aren't add-ons or electives.

"The actual issue of genuine reconciliation and decolonization is allowing First Nations a true platform where we can be related to on a nation to nation basis. It's a metaphor or a way of thinking that's exposed in how we're doing this, we're not just an add-in or something that is a compliment to a pre-existing program," she said.

Next week, students starting at the University of Winnipeg will all be taking at least one course on an Aboriginal topic in order to graduate, adhering to the recommendation made in the TRC calling for culturally appropriate curricula.

"They're allowing students to pick different areas of Aboriginal issues and education, so it's not just one course everybody has to take. They can select a course that might be relevant to their interest or their discipline or where they see their own career heading," Wolf said.

Moving forward, Wolf hopes to see her colleagues and students join her in the push for more firm and central Aboriginal courses in not only the school of business but across the entire UBC campus.

With files from the CBC's On The Coast.

To hear the full interview listen to audio labelled Mandatory Aboriginal programming sought by UBC business professor