What is CIS?

This research and teaching institute is unique in North America for its structural commitment to Critical Indigenous Studies, a cognate discipline to Critical Ethnic Studies that is rooted in global Indigenous decolonial, feminist, and antiracist scholarship and politics. Its primary purpose is not cultural education, but rather the robust and ethical engagement of Indigenous political, methodological, and ideological concerns and conditions. Attention is given to the structures of and relationships between domains of knowledge and power, and the ways that experience informs knowledge across and between categories of difference. The commitments shaping CIS are therefore focused on empowering Indigenous peoples and transforming Indigenous-settler relationships through sophisticated and engaged, collaborative, and mutually respectful research and practice.

Housed within the Faculty of Arts and committed to robust Indigenous-focused scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, this research and teaching Institute will bring into closer collaboration two growing and internationally recognized academic units—the First Nations and Indigenous Studies (FNIS, previously the First Nations Studies Program) and the First Nations and Endangered Languages Program (FNEL, previously the First Nations Languages Program)—and various affliate faculty and staff from across the Faculty and University.

It will further enhance the transition to an institutional structure more suited to their expanding needs and growing capacity within the Faculty of Arts. CIS will serve as a research hub and learning community for undergraduate and graduate students and visiting scholars and artists in the discipline, and will be another vibrant institutional home for local, regional, and international research and teaching partnerships.

First Nations & Indigenous Studies


The First Nations and Indigenous Studies (FNIS) is an interdisciplinary undergraduate program offering courses and a major and minor to students in the Faculty of Arts.

First Nations & Endangered Languages Program


The First Nations and Endangered Languages Program offers courses in First Nations languages, as well as methodology classes on language documentation, conservation and revitalization.


    Statement of Guiding Principles

    Located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking Musqueam people, the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies (CIS) in the Faculty of Arts at UBC is dedicated to the development and dissemination of robust and ethical scholarship, culturally attentive teaching practices and research methods, Indigenous critical theory and public engagement, and meaningful partnerships with Indigenous communities and within the social sciences and humanities.