Summer 2020 - FNST 322 E100

Special Topics in First Nations Studies

Decolonizing the City

Class Number: 4002

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 6:00 PM – 9:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Will vary according to the topic.



Variable units 3, 4, 5.


Storyscapes: Decolonizing the city through arts and culture

This course explores the colonialism embedded into the stories, landscapes, and systems of the North American city, and how Indigenous arts and culture can offer pathways to sustainable, equitable, and resilient cities. Focuses on Vancouver and the recent culture plan, Culture|Shift.  

Course Details  

Colonialism within the North American city has inscribed certain narratives and built forms onto Indigenous lands. This has contributed to the erasure of pre-existing laws, governance, knowledge systems, languages, cultural practises, etc. What are the consequences of this erasure? What are the transformative possibilities when Indigenous arts and culture, and other marginalized/erased stories are (re)inscribed onto the land and help to define the identity and public culture of the city? Drawing on a variety of sources—including public art, video, and poetry—this class will explore the embedded inequities within traditional planning in Canada, and other ways of looking at/relating to the land in urbanized settings.  

With an emphasis on Vancouver, traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, this course will pay close attention to the narratives and norms embedded into Vancouver’s tangible and intangible cultural landscapes and planning approaches. The City’s recent culture plan Culture|Shift: Blanketing the City in Arts and Culture will provide a guide to some ways Vancouver is attempting to decolonize. What are ways forward? What has been done and what can be done to make our cities and the ways we make decisions about them more reflective of Indigenous people’s ways of knowing, shaping, and living in relationship with places? While critically examining the colonialism in our cities, this class will be rich with Indigenous voices to affirm that every North American city is an Indigenous City.


  • Participation and attendance 10%
  • Reading responses (2) 20%
  • Photo essay 30%
  • Self-determined project 40%


Participation note: For those less comfortable speaking in a group setting, sending weekly reflections to the instructor will be an equally appreciated form of participation.

This course is 4-credits, and is cross-listed with URB 695 G200.

Prerequisite: 60 credits.



Culture|Shift: Blanketing the City in Arts and Culture, City of Vancouver  

Various sources, including video, poetry, heritage texts, tourism brochures, neighbourhood plans, and the like will be used throughout the course.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

  1. Deferred grades will be given only on the basis of authenticated medical disability. 
  2. Students requiring accommodations as a result of a disability must contact the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) at 778-782-3112 or
  3. Remember to check the Student Information System (SIS) at the start of the term to reconfirm your classroom location(s).
  4. All students are expected to read and understand SFU policies with regard to academic honesty and student conduct (S10).
    These policies are available at:

Department of Indigenous Studies (formerly First Nations Studies) - Contact Info:
Phone: 778-782-4774
General Office: Saywell Hall (SWH) Room 9089. Burnaby Campus. (M-F, 09:00-16:30 Hrs.)
Academic Advisor's Office: SWH 9081.

For general information, program information, academic advising (appointment or program check-up; enrollment assistance*): Please email

* Students: When submitting a request or an inquiry, please email from your SFU Mail ( email and remember to include your SFU Student ID number in your email. Thank you.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.