Indigenous Student Services

In partnership with Indigenous Student Services (previously First Nations House), the Innovation Hub engaged with the community to better understand  the experiences of Indigenous students at UofT. We discovered a strong need for community at many levels, and suggested ways for Indigenous Student Services to provide that community through social and cultural programming. To learn more about this work, you can engage with our research and findings below. 

Our Findings

Our work with Indigenous Student Services began in Summer 2018.

2019: What do students want out of cultural and social programming at Indigenous Student Services?

The insights and findings from our 2019 work are based on data from the project & events conducted with the community from 2018-2019. This helped to expand the findings and focus on themes & actionable steps for the community. We focused on the importance of community, which we subdivide into three levels of community-based interactions.

By considering these different aspects of community, and responding to students’ search for them, First Nations House can become a locus that satisfies student needs and better supports the Indigenous community. Findings explore: The following themes address community on three different levels:

  • Is this Community for me?: does the community respond to a person's search for authenticity and connection
  • Does this Community Support me as a Whole Person?: does the community relate to each member as a whole person
  • Does this Space Relate to the Wider Indigenous Community?: does the community interact with wider Indigenous communities beyond the University of Toronto

To learn more about these themes and insights, along with design principles and models that engage with Indigenous communities, a report and blog post is available below.


A red, brick building with trees surrounding it.

2018: What services do Indigenous students need?

Indigenous Student Services (previously known as First Nations House) worked with the Innovation Hub in Summer 2018 to investigate the reasons for a decline in student accessing services, solicit ideas for enhancing Indigenous Student Services's physical space, and gather inspiration for future programming. The goals of this project were to better understand student perspectives on the space, gain insight on the current state of Indigenous student engagement, and develop data-informed design principles for physical and program design.

Findings were divided into three themes:

  1. Guidance and support
  2. Community and space
  3. Structural barriers

For each theme, we provide some insights and supporting quotations from the interviews. We conclude with a brief discussion of the project limitations and recommendations for next steps.

Icon of a person with connecting circles reaching outwards.