Indigenous strategy

Indigenous Graduate Students

The University of Calgary, located in the heart of Southern Alberta, both acknowledges and pays tribute to the traditional territories of the peoples of Treaty 7, which include the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprised of the Siksika, the Piikani, and the Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Goodstoney First Nations). The City of Calgary is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta (Districts 5 and 6).

ii’taa’poh’to’p, the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, provides guidance on our path to reconciliation. The Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Calgary recognizes that there are various ways that Indigenous graduate students engage with Indigenous knowledge and traditions. We support Indigenous graduate students who wish to incorporate their traditional ways of knowing, teaching, learning and research. Some of the ways we do this include:

  • broadening procedures to better incorporate Indigenous languages, oral traditions, pedagogies and research methodologies and methods;
  • expanding opportunities for Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to contribute to graduate student research and teaching in meaningful ways; and
  • providing support for Indigenous graduate students who wish to incorporate their traditions.

Thesis and candidacy exams

The Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Calgary welcomes students from all Treaty 7 Nations and from the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3, and we welcome Indigenous students and scholars from across Canada. We support all Indigenous students who wish to honour their traditions in ways that are meaningful to them. Learn about incorporating Indigenous traditions in your candidacy and/or thesis exams. 


Indigenous graduate students are supported as they consider alternate thesis formats.

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Working with Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers

Students are encouraged to work with Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers as they write their theses. Elders and Knowledge Keepers may serve as Supervisors, Co-Supervisors, Supervisory Committee Members, Examiners, or Advisory Members.

Learn about the role of examiners and advisory members

Indigenous Cultural Protocol Plan

Indigenous graduate students and those working with Indigenous Elders or Knowledge Keepers will be supported if they wish to incorporate Indigenous traditions into their oral exams. This form, to be completed by students and supervisors, lays out a plan for students to incorporate their traditions.

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Decolonizing dissertations

As a Western institution, the university imposes a set of expectations on its graduate students. The Faculty of Graduate Studies supports Indigenous graduate students in decolonization and indigenization efforts. Recent roundtables addressed a number of relevant issues.

What does decolonization mean?

What does it mean to decolonize graduate work?

Resources for Indigenous Graduate Students

Writing Symbols Lodge

A culturally appropriate environment that encourages and supports the success of Indigenous students in their pursuit of knowledge and higher education.

Writing Symbols Lodge provides academic, personal, and cultural support services and programs to prospective and current First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students, and offers a welcoming and supportive learning environment for the whole campus community.

Writing Symbols Lodge provides a Cultural Room where students can smudge during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm). Some faculties have cultural spaces that allow for smudging. Smudging outdoors can be done without restriction.

Learn more

SAGE (Supporting Aboriginal Graduate Enhancement)

SAGE supports and nurtures the recruitment, retention and completion of Indigenous graduate students at the University of Calgary. This student-run program works to ensure that graduate students can connect with peers, mentors, and the broader campus community as they develop their personal, academic and professional skills.

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Learn more about the university's Indigenous Strategy.

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Indigenous Engagement

Contact the university's Office of Indigenous Engagement.

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Would you like to know more? Contact the Faculty of Graduate Studies