Article, Community

What is the future of Indigenous planning in Vancouver?

October 21, 2019

On September 25, 2019, we had the opportunity to co-host “Decolonizing the City: The Future of Indigenous Planning in Vancouver” with the Planning Institute of BC South Coast Chapter and Vancouver City Planning Commission. This was a presentation and panel discussion that proved to be a very important topic for our community, and we are thrilled at the support and interest for this event.

The panel was moderated by Ginger Gosnell-Myers, a Decolonization Strategist, Urban Planner, and Researcher. Previously, Ginger was the City of Vancouver’s first Indigenous Relations Manager, where she advanced Vancouver as the world’s first “City of Reconciliation”, and ensured that Indigenous recognition and meaningful inclusion was reflected throughout all City departments and plans. 

Ginger was joined by Rena Soutar, Kamala Todd, and Spencer Lindsay, all of which have experience working in and advancing reconciliation and Indigenous relations within different areas in the city.

Rena Soutar is of Haida descent and works as Reconciliation Planner for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. Her portfolio includes the ambitious goal of decolonizing the Vancouver Park Board. Among other initiatives, she works inter-governmentally with local First Nations on a long-term comprehensive plan for Stanley Park. Rena currently is leading the colonial audit for the Vancouver Park Board.

Kamala Todd is a Metis-Cree mother, community planner, filmmaker, curator, and educator born and raised in the beautiful lands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Skwxwú7mesh-speaking people, aka Vancouver. She has a Masters degree in Geography (UBC) and is the City of Vancouver’s first Indigenous Arts and Culture Planner. Kamala’s film credits include Indigenous Plant Diva, Cedar and Bamboo, RELAW: Living Indigenous Laws, and Sharing our Stories: the Vancouver Dialogues Project. She is the author of “This Many-storied Land”, in In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation (2016), and Truth-Telling: Indigenous perspectives on working with Municipal Governments (2017) for Vancouver Park Board.

Spencer Lindsay is of Red River Métis descent and has worked at the City of Vancouver since 2017, first as an Indigenous Engagement Specialist and now as an Indigenous Social Planner. Spencer’s work at the City has included facilitating the naming of šxʷƛ̓exən Xwtl’a7shn and šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square, developing an Indigenous Writing Style Guide, and serving as liaison to the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council and the Urban Indigenous People’s Advisory Committee.

We were also privileged to have Khelsilem present during the evening to serve as our rapporteur. Khelsilem, who is Sḵwx̱wú7mesh-Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw, is serving his first four-year term as an elected Councillor and spokesperson for the Squamish Nation Council. He serves on numerous committees, but has spent his first year in office focusing on housing, capital projects, language and culture, and economic development.

Our panelists in conversation. From left: Kamala Todd, Spencer Lindsay, Rena Soutar, and Ginger Gosnell-Myers.

If you missed the event on September 25, not to worry: we have a video and audio recording for you to watch and listen to it. We hope that this will be the first of many more public events and dialogues that will happen around these topics of reconciliation, Indigenous planning, and policy making at a municipal level.

Many thanks to all our speakers and co-presenters who helped to make this event a successful one! 

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