Indigenous Initiatives at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum

The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is committed to a world where biodiversity is better understood, valued, and protected. We respect and recognize the inextricable link between land, language, and culture; through work performed within the museum, in research, exhibits, and programming. Situated on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people, we acknowledge that the museum, and the structures within which it exists, carry colonial legacies. To address these legacies, we are forming, building, and maintaining meaningful and reciprocal partnerships with Indigenous communities and people. At the museum, we are providing appropriate training for staff and volunteers, and working towards anticolonial approaches in our physical and digital spaces.

Our efforts are aligned with UBC-wide initiatives, in particular, the UBC Indigenous Strategic Plan. These are ongoing, collaborative processes that require continuous learning, reflection, humility, collaboration, and action.

Here are some specific examples of our past, current, and future work:

  • An ongoing, collaborative relationship with Musqueam around the Sturgeon Harpoon Knowledge Web. This includes free virtual exhibition elements, physical exhibition elements, and creating educational resources for Musqueam’s specific needs.
  • Culture at the Centre is a permanent exhibition resulting through collaborative work between five cultural centres: Musqueam (Musqueam Cultural Education Centre), Squamish (Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre), Lil’wat (Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre), Heiltsuk (Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre), Nisg̱a’a (Nisg̱a’a Museum), Haida (Haida Gwaii Museum and Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay), and the Museum of Anthropology.
  • Training & Learning Opportunities:
    • Teaching & Learning Staff complete various courses as a part of their work, including Indigenous Learning Pathways: Land Acknowledgements at UBC, Weaving Relations, and relevant seminars, webinars, and training as they arise.
    • Museum Volunteers are provided with onboarding training and manuals, which include inclusive language, sharing Indigenous Knowledge at the Beaty, and other training opportunities that count towards their volunteer hours.
    • Museum-wide, the above courses, seminars, and workshops are taken on work-time by many staff.
    • Several staff have attended the Fire Across the Land workshop held at the Botanical Garden through the Faculty of Science.
  • We have a current partnership with Connected North, providing live, interactive virtual learning experiences and access to educational resources for students and teachers in remote communities, supporting them where they live. The museum provides virtual field trips, and Connected North provides staff training on best practices and trauma-informed approaches.
  • Regular, monthly JEDDII working group meetings that bring staff together from many departments and union groups throughout the museum. This work is reported on during all-museum meetings and archived notes are saved in our staff-accessible shared drive.
  • Thoughtfully and thoroughly worked through UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan toolkit (2022-2023), and have been invited to contribute to a panel about this work through the UBC Centre for Teaching and Learning.
  • Appropriate Land Acknowledgements are made during programs, tours, large meetings, and in printed materials.
  • Specific language in the current (2019-2024) Beaty Biodiversity Museum Strategic Plan. In our next strategic plan work in 2024, this will be retained and built. Some specific points include: Explore opportunities to share Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, Enrich relationships with Indigenous communities and strengthen the long-term partnership with the Musqueam First Nation, and Encourage links between research and/or collections with Indigenous groups to create more complete natural history stories.
  • Annual Reports list committee memberships and annual achievements.
  • In December 2023, in partnership with CTLT Indigenous Initiatives and Skylight, the Making Connections team organized the Classroom Climate Event: “Student Perspectives on Incorporating Indigenous Knowledges and Anti-Colonial Approaches to an Undergraduate Biology Course”. This blog highlights the experiences of the Making Connections Student Co-Developers with developing this new course, the process of integrating anti-colonial practices and Indigenous knowledges, and their key takeaways. Keep reading for their tips on how to meaningfully and sustainably support student staff involved in projects akin to theirs!

Stay tuned for more initiatives!