Toward Indigenous Urbanism in Canadian Cities

Authors: Ryan Walker*, University of Saskatchewan
Topics: Urban Geography, Indigenous Peoples, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Indigenous; Urban; Geography; Planning; Canada
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Astor Ballroom II, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban geography, planning, and design can play an important role in helping to reverse Indigenous dispossession from the urban landscape and reclaim Indigenous knowledge and cultural strength into the built environment of the city. In western settler states like Canada, USA, New Zealand, and Australia, most Indigenous people live in urban areas. Indigenous peoples are the fastest growing and youngest segment of the Canadian population. Canadian cities are located on Indigenous traditional lands, often precisely at sites where Indigenous peoples congregated, settled, and traded prior to the arrival of non-Indigenous settlers. The recently undertaken Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada marks a hopeful societal commitment to the process of healing and redistribution between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples. This presentation explores the role of urban geography, planning, and design in the process of truth-finding and reconciliation, and the potential for counteracting some of the dimensions of colonial violence and persistent ignorance continue to limit Indigeneity in the material and discursive production of city spaces. Analysis of interview data, documentary sources, and site visits in Canadian cities (e.g., Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa) reveals examples of where an Indigenous urbanism may be emerging. Through a critical conceptual lens these empirical examples are examined for what they can teach us about supporting Indigenous urbanism.

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