The University of Victoria is set to offer what it says is the world’s first master’s degree in Indigenous reconciliation in partnership with the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) next year.
Earlier this month, the province announced $8.4 million in funding for B.C.’s social services sector to develop a reconciliation framework over the next five years.
Overseen by the BCAAFC, the framework will include a master’s degree in business administration in Indigenous reconciliation and a training program for people working in Indigenous nonprofit organizations.
“We wanted to develop a really customized MBA that really focuses on Indigenous not-for-profit practices,” BCAAFC executive director Leslie Varley said on CBC’s On the Island.
“So I put out a tender to six universities in B.C., and we got some really, really good responses, and we decided to go with UVIC.”
Solution for leadership training
Saul Klein, the dean of UVic’s Gustavson school of business, said the university was initially approached with the idea of developing a leadership training program for people in the association.
“The idea of the program is that roughly half of the participants would be Indigenous and nominated primarily by the friendship centres, and the other half would be non-Indigenous, most of whom would be nominated by the provincial government.”
He said a total of two cohorts, each with 25 students, is expected to launch in the spring of 2023.
“This is most like a pilot, but the broader idea is that we’re hoping that we can demonstrate success with this and then find a way to establish this as an ongoing permanent type of program.”
The customized degree will not be like a typical academic program, Klein said, as officials are also discussing the possibility of delivering the modules in different parts of the province.
“The next few months are going to be a combination of student recruitment as well as customizing the program.”
Varley said her association has previously worked with the university on other projects and was confident in its ability to provide a custom MBA program tailored specifically to the association.
“We were really happy to select them,” Varley said. “They were really good partners with us and respected our Indigenous lens and wanted to make sure they were being really appropriate with us.”