Arts Indigenous Student Advising name change celebrates Indigenous community



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The office formally known as Aboriginal Student Affairs is excited to announce that we have changed our name to Arts Indigenous Student Advising. We are celebrating our new name by sharing the significance of what this change represents for our Indigenous students and the wider Indigenous community at UBC.

The impetus for changing our name came from internal and external discussions around updating the term ‘Aboriginal’ to ‘Indigenous’ to create a more inclusive space that better represents our students and community. ‘Indigenous’ is a term embraced globally, and while not without political contention in some areas, currently celebrates the sense of community that we feel as Indigenous peoples at UBC. The negative associations with the term ‘Aboriginal’ are noted in the UBC Indigenous Peoples: Language Guidelines, which state, “Though until recently a preferred term, it does, for many Indigenous people in Canada, by the very fact of its use in government policy, carry a negative association, though not nearly as strong a one as its predecessor, ‘Indian.’”

“The term ‘Indigenous’ sounds better, and so far, holds positive meaning for Indigenous people. It’s important for us to create a safe space and make Indigenous students from across the world feel welcomed, too.”
Peer Advisor, Arts Indigenous Student Advising

Our office respects the power of terminology and language, especially when it comes to Indigenous people and the deep history of how language reflects relationships. Over the past year, we consulted with current Indigenous students and alumni in the Faculty of Arts about possible names and discussed the name change with former Arts Indigenous Student Advising colleagues. Our team also supports Indigenous students through the Indigenous Leadership Collective, and we wanted to hear their thoughts on renaming our office. Tiana Bone, the 2019/20 Peer Advisor at Arts Indigenous Student Advising, brought the renaming discussion to the Indigenous Leadership Collective for feedback and reflection on what the new name means for students, and members agreed our office name should include ‘Indigenous’ rather than ‘Aboriginal.’

Bone describes the new name as a meaningful change for our office: “The term ‘Indigenous’ sounds better, and so far, holds positive meaning for Indigenous people. It’s important for us to create a safe space and make Indigenous students from across the world feel welcomed, too.”

The main purpose of our name change was to move from the use of ‘Aboriginal’ to ‘Indigenous,’ but including ‘Arts’ and ‘Advising’ in our new name also makes clearer who we are, what we do, and the academic support we provide. Indigenous students in the Faculty of Arts will know that we are primarily available to support and advise them, while our old name, ‘Aboriginal Student Affairs,’ sounded overly broad in terms of the support provided to students (not to mention it was reminiscent of a certain federal department).

Former Peer Advisor Chelsea Gladstone shared her thoughts with us on the name change:  “I think that by including “advising” … it gives a clear message [that Arts Indigenous Student Advising’s] mandate is to advise, and to me, advising means that I will be supported as a student and it’s a place where I could turn to for help.”

Arts Indigenous Student Advising is committed to providing meaningful support for Indigenous students to reach their academic, professional and personal goals. We provide support to Indigenous students in the Faculty of Arts, are a resource to students, staff and faculty, and are an important place of connection for Indigenous students and community members across campus.

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