Indigenous Australia

About the program

This program will immerse students into Aboriginal Australian culture to gain an understanding of “Country”. Country is the term often used by Aboriginal peoples to describe the lands, stars and seas to which they are connected. The term Country contains complex ideas about law, place, custom, language, spiritual belief, cultural practice, material sustenance, family and identity. Traveling together with Indigenous Australian students, will visit three different locations where we will work with Aboriginal Elders and Knowledge Keepers.   

Explore Indigenous philosophies, knowledge systems and processes as they apply to Country: land, sea and sky environments. Course will position Indigenous Worldviews and narrative as bodies of knowledge that outline human responsibilities and obligations in relationship with Country. 

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General Timeline

Teaching Dates: July 1 – 16th, 2024

Arrival: June 30, 2024

Week 1: The course will begin with students being Welcomed to Country by Aboriginal Australian Elders who are the traditional owners of the Lands where we will be staying.  The first week will focus on gaining an understanding of Sky Country.  The stars hold the Lore and Sacred Laws of how we are supposed to behave and relate with all of our relations. Elders will share stories from their culture, which has survived on Country for over 60,000 years.  

Week 2: As we learn how to behave ourselves in accordance with Sacred Law, we will listen to Elders tell their personal and cultural stories of connection to the Land.  Country is everything, and the Elders will share with us ways of connecting to Country. Once we can connect, we may start to learn from what Country has to teach us.  

Week 3: Travelling north to Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, we will spend our last days learning about Sea Country. Elders and Sea Rangers will teach us about our relationships with water. Remembering the Sacred Laws, we will learn how to fulfill our responsibilities to the sea.  

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Eligibility and Prerequisite

Pre-req’s: 12 credits of any INDG (ubco), FNIS, INLB (ubcv), BNLF, BSTAT or BNtek (ubco language fluency programs). It’s important for this program that all students have taken at least 3 Indigenous specific courses.

Eligible applicants may be invited for an interview before being accepted into this program. 


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Program Fees

Program fees: $3,800-$4,200.

*The final program fee depends on the number of students in the program. This program will be supported by the Indigenous Global Connection award and you could receive up to $4,000 to help offset the Program fee. Please see the details of this award for further information and eligibility.

Indigenous Global Connection Award

Note: UBC students accepted to this program will also receive $1,000 through our Go Global Award.

Included in program fee Not included in program fee
  • Accommodations
  • On-site group transportation
  • Breakfast
  • Entrance fees
  • Guest lectures
  • Go Global fees
  • Flight
  • UBC tuition
  • Remainder of meals
  • Health or travel insurance
  • Immunizations (if necessary)
  • Visas (if necessary)
  • Personal spending money


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INDG 495d – Advanced Topics in Indigenous studies: Aboriginal Australia – Sky Sea Land Country  

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Program Director Bio

Dr Shawn Wilson is from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. After living for 17 years on Bundjalung Country in Australia, he now lives on syilx territory. He is an Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies in the department of Community, Culture and Global Studies at UBC Okanagan. 

Through working with Indigenous people internationally, Shawn has applied Indigenist philosophy within the contexts of Indigenous education, health and counsellor education. In addition to further articulating Indigenous philosophies and research paradigms, his research focuses on the inter-related concepts of identity, health and healing, culture and wellbeing. His current research is helping to clarify and articulate the rules and protocols for engaging with and protecting sacred knowledge, including Star Knowledge and Ceremonial Knowledge. 


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