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Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights, and Land Claims — certificate


Associate certificate

4 consecutive weeks

Full time

How to apply

Start date:
No intake until further notice 

Off-campus locationStó:lō Nation's Cultural Research Center



  • Practicum work, field site visits, and guest lectures enhance in-class learning and bring concepts to life.
  • Instructors bring an innovative and multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Indigenous land claims.


The Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights, and Land Claims Certificate is under review and not being offered at this time.



The term 'land claim' is typically used to describe any action involving the attempt by Indigenous peoples to recover lands and resources acquired by expansionist European settler states during the imperial and colonial periods. Typically, acquisition was enabled by the negotiation of treaties, but these were, as often as not, only part of a more complex process involving introduced disease, reserves, legislative action, and a range of culture practices generally referred to as the 'civilizing mission'. This allowed, it is often through the negotiation of modern day treaties, and related territorial and cultural strategies that many of these lands and resources are now being reacquired by their original Indigenous owners.

Put alternately, this associate certificate is about the various ways by and through which Indigenous lands and resources were taken — and in this sense the telling of a story that more people still need to hear — but more importantly is about the various ways by and through which Indigenous peoples are getting them back — and in this sense a manifesto about truth, justice, and reconciliation, and how cultures relate to each other and the lands they now necessarily share in an increasingly interconnected world.

This associate certificate is mostly 'about' land claims in British Columbia — where they come from, why they have to be resolved, but mostly how to do them. This is partly because British Columbia is one corner of the world where all the tactics of colonization and disenfranchisement — and also the wondrous and myriad ways of decolonization, cultural revival, and reinvention — are so visibly on display. Partly, however, it is because it is delivered in the heart of traditional Stó:lō unceded territory, itself one of many Indigenous territories in a province where treaties were never negotiated, but where modern-day versions are now, if slowly and hesitatingly, underway.

Even so, and while some 65 First Nations representing 114 Indian Act bands in British Columbia are presently involved in a formal treaty process, this certificate is about more than that. It also takes a serious look at Indigenous rights and title actions as effected and pursued through issue-specific kinds of claims, interim measures agreements, in Indigenous schools, and through litigation in court — and critically reflects on the promises and perils of either. Where appropriate, comparative studies of tactics and methods used in other parts of Canada and the decolonizing world will also be investigated.

Some of this certificate is avowedly philosophical and reflective in tone. Most of it is decidedly critical, practical, in the field, and on the ground. All of it is necessary — constitutionally, politically, economically, and spiritually. Academic treatise and travelogue all at once, the University of the Fraser Valley is pleased to deliver this critically acclaimed certificate.

The program

This intensive four-week, three-course, twelve-credit associate certificate offers you the opportunity to learn a range of conceptual and practical skills that are of direct relevance to the history, communication, implementation, and critique of rights, title, and land claims. It focuses on a range of representational practices, including, but not limited to, film, oral histories, documentaries, surveys and maps, and legal discourse analysis, and their importance to the Indigenous land and rights process generally, but with a focus on British Columbia in particular.

The in-class portion of this associate certificate will be from the last week of June to the third week of July on a 'four-day-on, three-day-off' schedule, with the remainder of the summer semester (through to the second last week of August) used for completion of assignments. In-class learning is supported by practicum work, visits to field sites, and guest lectures or visits by Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal experts working in the area of comprehensive land claims and treaty negotiations.

Week 1

HIST 399e: Special topics in History I: Films, Histories and Land (4 credits)

This intensive one-week (see Note below) course offers students an account and analysis of how film and historical writing have been used to make the invisible (the heritage and land use of First Nations) visible (films and texts created to reveal and explain Indigenous peoples' relationship to their lands and cultures). By critically evaluating film and text, students will learn about the challenges of land claims research, and how to enhance research methodologies developed to advance land rights and land claims processes in Canada and other parts of the world. The focus will be on the place of creative work in research.


Week 2

GEOG 300f: Special Topics in Geography: Maps, Territories and Land (4 credits)

This intensive one-week course (see Note below) introduces students to the conceptual and practical challenges of making maps to advance and support land claims in British Columbia. Students will learn about the history of First Nations cartography and wayfinding in British Columbia and elsewhere, and how to use maps and other forms of spatial representation such as stories, songs, artifacts, blockades or occupancies, and the law to advance claims to territory in the modern period, and some of the perils and promises associated with these processes.


Week 3

HIST 396i: Special Topics in North American History: Rights, Title and Land (4 credits)

This intensive one-week course (see Note below) introduces students to the history of the Stó:lō, their relations to land and resources, and rights, title, and land claims issues. Students will watch films, read texts, hear oral interviews and presentations, view maps, and tour the Stó:lō cultural landscape as a 'thick' or 'embedded' way of learning about the Stó:lō and the challenges facing them in their relationship with non-Native newcomers and government authorities. Stó:lō rights and title issues involve local and broader histories of litigation, negotiation, direct action, and land/resource management. The course will challenge students to be creative in thinking of ways to understand, convey, and address rights and title issues, using a variety of methods and media.

Dr. David Schaepe, Director and Senior Archaeologist Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Center at Stó:lō Nation (extensive experience researching Stó:lō title, rights and heritage)
Naxaxalhts'i (Albert 'Sonny' McHalsie), Hon. PhD, Cultural Advisor/Historian Stó:lō Research and Resource Managament Center(extensive experience in the negotiation of Stó:lō title and rights)

Note: Each of the three courses is effectively one week (five day-long classes, Monday through Thursday) in length, and the responsibility of the designated instructor, but in practice they will be interwoven with each other, 'stretched over' a four week period, instructors alternating with one another as required. In part, this is because of the availability of certain facilities and/or guest speakers relevant to the material covered by each instructor, but also because it enhances the interdisciplinary nature of the courses in the associate certificate as a whole. The exact rotation of the classes will be made clear at the start of the certificate.


2017 classes were delivered in the Stó:lō Nation's Cultural Research Center, 7201 Vedder Rd., Sardis, B.C. V2R 4G5. This building is state of the art and the Stó:lō people have graciously offered to welcome instructors and students into their traditional territory.

Students coming from outside the lower Fraser Valley may wish to consider accommodation in UFV's student residences, which are located at the main campus in Abbotsford, approximately 40 km west of Chilliwack. The nightly rate is $55 per person in a shared unit plus taxes for full service (bed linens and towels) and $45 per person per night for economy service (no bed linens or towels). Exclusive occupancy in your own unit is $100 per night. Monthly rates are $950 in a shared unit, $1425 privately. Each suite has two bedrooms and a shared bathroom. Contact for further information. Find out details about accommodations.



Aboriginal people are Canada's fastest-growing demographic. According to Statistics Canada, they currently accounts for 4.3% of the Canadian population. And this number is expected to grow to 5.3% by 2030.

Paralleling this trend, is a rising awareness that Canadian society must break from a history of marginalizing Indigenous people, to value their cultures and foster truth, justice, and reconciliation. As a result, knowledge of Indigenous history, culture, and values is vital for professionals who work in the fields of education, health, arts, social work, or business.

Earning an Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights and Land Claims associate certificate is an excellent choice for current professionals who need to develop skills in the area of Indigenous land claims in order to enhance their career. It is also a must-have addition to a bachelor's degree for anyone wishing to pursue a career in politics, education, human rights, public administration, international development, or Aboriginal support.


Entrance requirements

View the entrance requirements in the UFV Academic Calendar

How to Apply

Current UFV students should submit any official (sealed) postsecondary transcripts from other institutions to the Office of the Registrar and should apply through their myUFV student account. Letter of Intent can be emailed directly to

Applicants will be assessed/weighted according to the following criteria:

  • Interest and motivation in learning about maps, films, rights and their history and application to the resolution of Aboriginal land claims (as covered in the letter of intent and/or in the interview) (up to 20 points)
  • Either academic credentials or demonstrable equivalent professional experience (as covered in the official transcript or supporting documentation and/or interview outlining professional qualifications) (up to 20 points)
  • Willingness to commit to intensive in-class experience in a condensed four week period that includes external field trip requirements and conditions (as covered in the letter of intent) (up to 10 points)
  • Competency in English (as demonstrated in the letter of intent or in the interview) (up to 10 points)

Note: Applicants must score 45 out of 60 for acceptance into the certificate.

Additional documents required for a complete application:

  • Proof of B.C. secondary school graduation or equivalent if you will not be 19 years of age by the start of the semester.
  • Letter of intent not exceeding two pages expressing interest, qualifications, current education and/or professional capacity or experience 
  • Official transcripts (or interim transcripts) of all post-secondary institutions attended, or resume/employment record/letter of reference (note that to be considered official, transcripts must be sent directly to UFV from the originating institution; see the Transfer Credit section for details).

Graduation Requirements

Applicants who are already university students as described in the entrance requirements above must take the courses for academic alphanumeric credit; applicants admitted as non-university students as described in the entrance requirements may complete the certificate on a straight credit/no credit (i.e. CR/NCR) basis.

Students will also have followed appropriate protocols for cultural, educational, and safety reasons, participated in field trips, met project deadlines, and been willing to participate in a self-evaluation.

Any student successfully completing all three courses in the associate certificate with the equivalent of a minimum letter grade of C in each course will be eligible to receive the certificate. Students may be able to use the certificate courses to satisfy requirements for the UFV Bachelor of Arts degree. Those wishing to apply credit towards other UFV bachelor degrees should check with their program advisor to determine applicability.


"UFV’s Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights and Land Claims certificate was the most eye-opening course I ever took in my undergraduate career. It totally changed my perspective and has fuelled my passions ever since. In fact, I started law school at Thompson Rivers University with the hope of practicing in the area of Indigenous law and rights."

  • – Cassandra Enns
  •    TRU Law student
Read Cassandra's story

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