UVic to deliver world’s first custom MBA in Indigenous Reconciliation

First People's house at UVic

The University of Victoria’s First Peoples House, located at the heart of the campus, is a social, cultural and academic centre for Indigenous students and serves as a safe and welcoming place that encourages the building of community. Credit: UVic Photo Services

July 8, 2022, Victoria, B.C. – The University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business is set to co-create and deliver the world’s first custom MBA in Indigenous Reconciliation. This reflects the university’s commitment to build strong partnerships with local community social service agencies that are working in harmony to support Indigenous Peoples, listen to the needs of communities and rectify past injustices. 

The MBA, which will be developed in partnership with the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), was unveiled today as part of an $8.4-million funding announcement by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction that will create an action framework to integrate reconciliation into community social services. The MBA program will also draw on funding from BCAAFC and Indspire, an Indigenous national charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. 

“We are honoured by the invitation to collaborate on this unique program,” says Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business. “This MBA will equip leaders in social services, government and non-profits to meaningfully advance reconciliation in their organizations and across our broader society.” 

The MBA in Indigenous Reconciliation will support UVic’s commitment and actions on truth, respect and reconciliation, and developing new pathways for Indigenous students to higher education. It joins programs such as UVic’s language revitalization education and the world’s first JD/JID, joint degree in Indigenous legal orders and Canadian common law, which graduated its inaugural class in June 2022. 

“The University of Victoria reflects on the injustices created by colonial policies and practices and are committed to offering programs that meet the needs of the local Indigenous communities,” says Qwul’sih’yah’maht Robina Thomas, UVic’s vice-president Indigenous. 

“The MBA in Indigenous Reconciliation is a powerful example of the critically important programing that is achievable when we follow the Hul’qumi’num teaching Ts’its’uwatul’ tseep (to help each other or working together). Congratulations to the partners and scholars who worked together to make this MBA possible.” 

Following a closed-enrolment model, students in the program will be selected by BCAAFC and the provincial government. Drawing from the non-profit, social-service and government sectors, cohorts will be intentionally designed to include Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants. 

“Reconciliation is a lens for everyone to look through,” says Brent Mainprize, teaching professor at the Gustavson School of Business. “This program brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals to learn from each other about their cultures and build a shared understanding of and commitment to reconciliation that can be designed in the classroom and immediately put into action in students’ organizations and communities.” 

In 2019, the Gustavson School of Business was invited by BCAAFC to develop a unique program focused on social innovation. The 3C Challenge, a province-wide youth entrepreneurship initiative, engaged Indigenous youth in creating businesses uniting the three Cs: Community, Culture and Cash. The challenge saw more than 700 entrepreneurs under the age of 30 participate in its community-based training workshops and mentorship program from 2019 to 2021. 

“It is a true honour to have the opportunity to co-design another unique, forward-thinking innovation from BCAAFC Executive Director Leslie Varley,” says Mainprize. 

Gustavson has previously co-created an internationally award-winning customization of its MBA in Sustainable Innovation, setting the framework for BCAAFC and the provincial government’s vision to come to life in the MBA in Indigenous Reconciliation, which is expected to launch in Spring 2023. These programs reflect UVic’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly ones that seek to end poverty, hunger and promote healthy lives and well-being and inclusive and quality education. 

Read the BC Government news release here