Indigenous initiatives

Indigenous salmon run
The Goldstream Salmon run is one of a number of Indigenous Student Support Centre (ISSC) sponsored events. Students in our CYC 360, “All My Relations” course were able to get extra credit for this and other land-based learning activities. (From the Left, Brandan George, Knowledge Keeper, and Shaunna Underwood, Indigenous Advisor).


The School of Child and Youth Care respectfully acknowledges the traditional territory and land of the Coast Salish people on whose traditional lands our university resides. We have worked and partnered with various Indigenous communities on Vancouver Island and are grateful to the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka'wakw and Nuu’chah’nulth people who are such generous hosts and stewards of this traditional island territory.


The School of Child & Youth Care is committed to decolonizing, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive leadership and pedagogies in research and education. Our practices aim at making substantial contributions in advancing social justice and an understanding of diasporic communities, disability studies, critical race theory and studies, gender and sexuality, critical queer studies, and Indigenous ways of knowing, doing and being.

We are inspired by the Community Wellness Drum and the Transformation Pole to do the work to move us all towards community wellness and advancing equity through our praxis, learning and teaching.

Learn more about SCYC Indigenous Initiatives:


The Community Wellness Drum was created by local Coast Salish artist, Dylan Thomas. The Community Wellness Drum is a symbolic representation of our continued commitment to moving towards wellness for children, youth, families, and communities. The design depicts four figures who come together to form a perfect circle around the centre point.


Community Wellness Witness Drum - Dylan Thomas (2016)

The four figures represent familiesrelationshipsculture, and communities. If one of the figures was removed or misplaced, the circle would not be complete and the middle circle would be exposed. When the figures come together, they form a protective barrier around the centre, which symbolizes the security created when our communities work in a supportive and harmonious fashion. (Dylan Thomas, 2016)

Transformation Pole

Transformation Pole

At the entrance of the School of Child and Youth Care, stoically stands the Transformation Pole.  In 1993, Artist and Carver Don Smith was commissioned to carve a totem for the School of Child and Youth Care to commemorate 20 years since its inception.  The pole is carved of red cedar and depicts the Salish Thunderbird as half eagle and half human.  Enveloped between the wings of the thunderbird nests a child or youth.  The Thunderbird is there to protect and clutch this youth as her own; enclosing the youth in the spirit of contentment. 

We acknowledge and affirm the Transformation Pole in the entrance, and it will partner with the Community Wellness Drum as a constant reminder of the commitment and work that we need to do to move us to a place of community wellness and equity. 

Please say hello and remember to develop your own relationship with the pole that has stood the test of time and still greets all of us as we make our way into the school.  This pole in tree form grew on the land and now rests as a reminder to us all of the transformation that can and is always happening in our midst. 

BCYC and Indigenous students

Diverse Indigenous ways of knowing, doing and being align with many aspects of our core curriculum. In addition to significant curricular threads in decolonizing praxis and ethics in CYC, all students take CYC 250 Law, Indigenous People and the TRC Calls to Action, ensuring a common basis of understanding and a platform for connection.

BCYC Indigenous specialization

Do you want to explore a focus on child and youth care work within Indigenous communities? Consider our Indigenous specialization stream as part of your BCYC program. You'll be introduced to the knowledge, child and youth care frameworks, and practices needed for entry into child and youth care work within Indigenous contexts.

This specialization is intended for Indigenous students with space for other students who hold connections with Indigenous communities.

Graduate Indigenous Land-based Research Institute

An Indigenous land- and water-based institute for Masters and PhD course credit was held from 2019 to 2020 for Indigenous graduate students. Coordinated by faculty in the School of Child and Youth Care and facilitated by knowledge keepers in local W̱SÁNEĆ and T’Sou-ke nation territories.

The year-long institute provided land-based learning, sharing circles, online communication, and editorial mentoring in response to a lack of Indigenous pedagogies and the underrepresentation of Indigenous graduate students in frontline postsecondary programs.

Two collaborative articles were created from the institute:


Additional resources for Indigenous students

Within the School of Child and Youth Care, (SCYC) we strive to facilitate positive community-driven work that supports community defined needs and interests. Indigenous faculty in the School of Child and Youth Care are committed to respectful research training, resources and connections that are relevant to diverse communities, individuals, organizations, agencies and contexts.

Graduate students are supported to develop meaningful, engaged thesis and dissertation projects that honour Indigenous knowledge systems and relational ways of knowing. Some recent graduate student projects:

Keenan Andrew, Recognizing a rising leader with big dreams

Indigenous community-driven projects with faculty:

Indigenous faculty and graduate students work with communities they are in relationship with and where invited, to secure funding and develop projects that respond to community identified needs. Some current projects:


Nick’s Living Lab project with W̱SÁNEĆ and Songhees



Recent SCYC Indigenous and decolonizing publications:

BIPOC scholarship in our field is its own form of activism. Here is a list of recent CYC resources:

Indigeneity, gender, wellness and land-based practice:

Dr. Devi Mucina, Director of Indigenous Governance and SCYC alum, his recent book is a great resource for our courses and students:

Book chapter on upholding Metis practice and advocacy by faculty Shanne McCaffrey and SCYC alum Angela Scott: and

Decolonial Indigenous land-based pedagogies, research and practice by faculty and students in the Indigenous Graduate Land-Based Research Institute 2019-20:

ȻENTOL TŦE TEṈEW̱. Part 1: Indigenous land- and water-based pedagogies. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 11(2).

ȻENTOL TŦE TEṈEW̱. Part 2: Indigenous front line practice as resurgence. International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, 11(2).

Black and Africentric CYC scholarship:  

Two ​powerful articles on Black and Africentric CYC scholarship from the Ryerson plenary speakers at the CYC in Action VI Conference, 2019:

A special issue from Ryerson CYC faculty: Jean-Pierre, J., & McCready, L. (2019). Introduction to the special issue: African Canadians, Gender and Sexuality/Édition spéciale: Les afro-canadiens, le genre et la sexualité. Canadian Journal of Sociology/Cahiers canadiens de sociologie, 44(4), 311-318.

Settler ethics & BIPOC accountabilities for practicioners:

Faculty Dr. Mandeep Kaur Mucina and current MA student Shantelle Moreno on BIPOC accountabilities for front line practitioners:

On courageous conversations in our field​, by faculty Jin-Sun Yoon:

Alum Kaz Mackenzie's MA thesis looks at whiteness in CYC, interviews include white and Indigenous CYC practitioners:   and

SCYC alum Dr. Scott Kouri has contributed numerous​ pieces that outline settler accountabilities and foster anti-imperial and anti-colonial ethics in our field, including:

Kouri, S. (2019). Critical cyc counselling in settler colonial contexts. Relational Child and Youth Care Practice, 32(3), 68-84.

Kouri, S. (2018). Empire and identity: The ethics of becoming other than what we are. CYC-Online, 235, 18–27.

History of SCYC & Indigenous community connections

2008-2010 Diploma in Child and Youth Care in Indigenous Communities Funded by the Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP)

The Child and Youth Care Indigenous Diploma (CYCID) is a two-year continuous (24-month) diploma program that prepares students to begin careers in a variety of early years and child and youth care settings.

The diploma program was developed in part through the BC Ministry of Advanced Education Aboriginal Special Projects Fund. It was completed in 2010 in partnership with the School of Child and Youth Care and a north island partnership including the Quatsino, Fort Rupert, Namgis, and Gwasala-nakwaxda’xw communities.

The program delivery involved the application of community-capacity building modalities to create a learning support network, both in community, and online with a virtual learning lodge beyond the classroom. The innovative program design also combined face-to-face seminar, intensive trainings, work on the land and water, experiential trainings in community with community members instructing on the land, elder supported, and blended online and in person deliveries. 

The delivery took place in collaboration with a collective of north island Indigenous community partners. Ten students graduated in the fall of 2010. Of these graduates, five joined the full BCYC degree program.

Our history with Indigenous communities also includes:


Final Circle at the CYC Conference, Moving through the trails and trials toward Community Wellness, April 25-27, 2019.


Transformation Pole Carver Don Smith and wife Theresa along with Wisdomkeeper May Sam watch the LE,NOṈET dancers from the W̱SÁNEĆ local Tribal School.