Inner-City Land Use, Planning, and the Production of Indigenous Space in Saskatoon, Canada

Authors: Robert Fawcett*, University of Saskatchewan, Ryan Walker, University of Saskatchewan
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Planning Geography, Canada
Keywords: Indigenous, Aboriginal, resurgence, decolonization, urban, planning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Studio 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There is a wealth of literature capturing the significance and dynamism of Indigenous resurgence movements in the context of white settler societies. Analyses of settler colonial relations that obstruct Indigenous resurgences toward decolonization are also abundant, though research emphasizing the spatiality of these relations and the political economic conditions that structure them is limited, particularly in contemporary urban milieus. This paper is based on empirical research conducted in Saskatoon, Canada, the largest city in the Prairie province of Saskatchewan. We examine a contemporary urban planning process through which settler colonialism is impacting upon the production of Indigenous space: inner-city commercial and residential "revitalization" in a neighbourhood with a historically large and socioeconomically marginalized Indigenous population. We ask, within the context of neighbourhood change, how might urban spaces and planning regimes be re-calibrated to support resurgent Indigenous urbanisms, i.e., social economies; the collective control and use of land; and, a holistic right to the city? We argue that urban Indigenous spaces that are perceived to impede or resist the productive logic of the local market economy are antagonized by particular elements of settler society, and are structurally pacified by the settler state’s land use and planning apparatus, which is anchored to the myriad enclosures, fragmentations, and systematic constraints of a hegemonic private property regime. An attention to settler colonial relations that condition and regulate the production of particular Indigenous urban spaces reveals the many tensions, barriers, and violence that Indigenous communities face on their pathways to resurgence and decolonization.

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