Indigenous Practitioner Perspectives on City Building

Featuring Eladia Smoke, Principal Architect, Smoke Architecture, Master Lecturer at Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture; Tonii Lerat, Community Planner with Urban Systems, and a Board Member, Canadian Institute of Planners; Lorna Crowshoe, Aboriginal Issues Strategist with the City of Calgary and Board Member of National Trust of Canada; Danilo Caron, EIT, and Indigenous Student Engagement Coordinator at UBC Engineering Student Services; and Naomi Ratte, Landscape Architecture student, University of Manitoba, and co-editor of Voices of the Land: Indigenous Design and Planning from the Prairies.  Moderated by Hunter Cardinal, Co-Founder and Director of Story, Naheyawin. Based in Edmonton, AB, Hunter is a member of the Sucker Creek Cree First Nation.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

Engage early, often and throughout 

To cultivate positive relationships with Indigenous communities, there must be constant engagement from city builders. This engagement must be sincere and honest throughout the entire process. When planning alongside Indigenous communities, city builders must create attainable and outcome focused plans. These plans must be authentic to the individual community that the city builder is working with.   

Canadians must understand the meaning of ancestral land 

When working on projects within treaty territories, it is important to remember the strong relationships that Indigenous peoples have with their ancestors and the land. Planners, developers and architects must work with traditional knowledge keepers and honour Indigenous ancestors when making changes to this land.  

We must build using Indigenous perspectives 

Professional practices should include the wisdom, values and culture of Indigenous communities. This inclusion within city building practices can encourage and attract more Indigenous youth to these professions. Over time, perspective students will begin to see themselves and their values represented in their surrounding landscapes.  

Institutions must be held accountable 

Education is of the utmost importance in achieving Truth and Reconciliation. Our institutions are responsible for teaching and providing that education. There must be a willingness and desire from institutions to ask for support from Indigenous educators to create a balanced education.  

Work towards a shared identity 

The disconnect between Indigenous perspectives and professional city building practices comes from the sublimation of Indigenous culture. Consultation, engagement and active listening with Indigenous peoples can lead to increased Indigenous visibility within city building. Spaces will become more enjoyable and regenerative while creating a shared identity.