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Transformative planning practice and urban Indigenous governance in Vancouver, British Columbia

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A majority of legislation, policies and research about Indigenous rights in Canada has taken place at the federal and provincial levels. However, there is very little understanding about Indigenous rights in urban contexts. Nevertheless, over half of Indigenous people in Canada live in cities, making it necessary to gain a better understanding of how municipal governance can recognize Indigenous rights. Urban and regional planning is central to addressing Indigenous rights in cities because of the profession’s significant role in land acquisition and ability to influence social, cultural and political control. But because planning has been instrumental to the dispossession of Indigenous peoples, it raises the question of whether the same professional tools could or should be used in an effort to undo the oppression and neglect of Indigenous peoples. This thesis aims to understand what specific transformative planning practices are potential approaches for improved urban Indigenous governance. This study investigates the practices of non-Indigenous planning professionals that urban Indigenous non-profit organizations in Vancouver have identified as being effective in furthering their organizations’ goals. I seek to answer two questions. First, what are the planning practices of these non-Indigenous planners that make them effective according to the Indigenous people they work with? Second, how do these practices connect to designing urban Indigenous governance with the purpose of incorporating and expressing Indigenous rights in cities? By exploring these questions this thesis hopes to uncover what future planning efforts are called for to expand Indigenous rights in the city.
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