We acknowledge that the UBC Vancouver campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam).

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Truth and Reconciliation

We want Indigenous Applicants

We know that public health is implicated in the harmful legacy of colonization.

We know that our scholarly profession, our School and educational programs all have responsibilities to promote Truth & Reconciliation.

We know that we have been, and remain, far from perfect in fulfilling those responsibilities.

There is much work to do.

Why should Indigenous applicants consider the MPH program in the School of population & Public Health (SPPH) at UBC?

Will it be a program and place free from the harmful legacy of colonization?

Truth and Reconciliation

Our sincere steps towards Indigenous reconciliation and upholding the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples

SPPH values and seeks to enrol Indigenous students. All applicants are screened through the standard admissions process.  Indigenous students are integral to the MPH community and we value lived experience as part of our evaluation.


Our Steps Forward

1) Curriculum Revisions

We revised our curriculum to require all students to take a full course to learn about:

  • The harmful legacy of colonization.
  • Its ongoing influence on population health.
  • And our collective responsibilities to serve as agents of change to disrupt the unearned advantages and disadvantages imposed by our social, political, economic and health systems.
  • Learning and responding to these themes is now considered a core competency of our MPH training.

2) Leadership

  • Each year, the MPH program hires 2-3 student leaders to participate in our Program’s leadership team.
    • We reserve one of these spots for an Indigenous student to ensure Indigenous leadership on our team, and to provide Indigenous students with opportunities to disrupt power dynamics in our School and profession.
  • Opportunities to disrupt are real.
    • For example, one Student Leader identified a major shortcoming in the School’s Strategic Plan, which led to subsequent improvements to the Plan.
  • We have launched an Indigenous peer mentorship program.
    • To value their time and commitment, we pay for time spent in peer mentoring or gatherings (when mentors deem it appropriate).

Our Steps Stalled or Backward

1)  Curriculum

  • As we changed our curriculum to require all MPH students to study the harmful legacy of colonization for public health, we anticipated that Indigenous students may regret losing access to a course that explored decolonization in depth in order to welcome many students with limited knowledge about the history of colonization to learn some basics.
  • In response, we have reserved seats for MPH students in an introductory course about Indigenous public health.

2) Representation in Leadership

  • Our initial effort to reserve a leadership spot for an Indigenous student was not communicated by the program adequately.
  • This led some students to question whether the selected student leader “represented” them.
    • While a charitable interpretation recognizes that many students who asked this question did so because they were concerned they didn’t have a chance to “elect” the leaders, it nevertheless was heard by the Indigenous student as another example of his being told he is an “outsider” or “not good enough.”
  • We have changed the communication about the role to prevent (or at least reduce the risk) that this problem could emerge again.

Blind Spots

  • Beyond the steps identified above, there is more work ahead for our Program to advance reconciliation.
  • Some of that thinking is underway. Some of that thinking is not.
  • We acknowledge ongoing blind spots created by systemic power dynamics that reinforce the status quo, along with the obligation to urgently overcome those blinds spots in order to take the requisite actions to decolonize our Program and practices.


    Admission Requirements

    Our Steps Forward

    1) Recruitment

    • For each new cohort that we recruit, we aim to make room for at least 10% of new students to be Indigenous.
    • Most Indigenous students earn entry into our program because of their high academic standing in previous educational settings.

    Looking Forward

    1)  Our Application Process

    • Our application materials will invite all candidates to consider the following question as they pen their letter of intent: “SPPH values equity, diversity and inclusion, and strongly encourages Indigenous persons, as well as persons representing diverse racial and ethnic contexts, to apply to our graduate programs.
    • All applicants, including those with unearned privilege, are invited here to tell the admissions committee through your Letter of Intent and other supporting documents, how you might contribute as a student, to our knowledge, understanding or experiences of equity, diversity and inclusion in the MPH program.

    2)  Financial Wellness

    • Starting for our recruitment of the 2022 cohort, we will change our practice when it comes to allocating scholarship funding. The MPH program typically receives around $30,000 in scholarship funding to award to students.
    • Going forward, we will reserve 50% of this funding for Indigenous applicants: Approximately $10,000 will be allocated to an Indigenous student to cover her/his/their two years of tuition.
    • Approximately $5,000 will be allocated to a second Indigenous student to cover the first year of tuition.
    • The remaining $15,000 will be allocated between the top three ranked non- Indigenous students to cover the first year of tuition.

    Of note, when a Musqueam applicant is accepted into the MPH program, the $10,000 scholarship will be allocated to that applicant in recognition of the unique responsibilities that the SPPH has to advance reconciliation with the Nation on whose traditional, unceded, ancestral land our institution is located.

    Many thanks to our colleagues Patricia Spittal and Melanie Rivers for helping our MPH program come to emphasize the specific obligations we have to advance reconciliation with the Musqueam Nation.