Land Use Planning on Aboriginal Lands-Towards a New Model for Planning on Reserve Lands

By Millette, Daniel M. | Canadian Journal of Urban Research, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

Land Use Planning on Aboriginal Lands-Towards a New Model for Planning on Reserve Lands


Millette, Daniel M., Canadian Journal of Urban Research


Abstract

Land Use Planning within Canada's First Nation reserves has generally been unsuccessful. There are several reasons for this, mired in a historical-colonial legacy of imposing western planning models onto non-western cultures. Conflicting cultural views, underappreciated traditions and misunderstood cyclical customs have rendered land use plans that are highly inappropriate. This article briefly contextualizes the historical background to First Nation land and land management in Canada. It then describes what can only be seen as an enabling agreement between the federal government and First Nations who opt into the same agreement to plan, manage and indeed, to govern over their lands. Finally, it presents points of departure for a model of land use planning on First Nation lands.

Keywords: First Nation planning, Traditional land use planning

Resume

La planification at l'amenegement des territories autochtones du Canada n'a jamais ete un veritable success. Il y plusieurs causes, tous inextricablement relie a l'imposition de principes europeens et colonials dans un contexte autochtone et traditionel. Les concepts contradictories par rapport aux cultures indigenes, les traditions sous apprecier, et les coutumes mal interpreter sont a la base de plans d'amenegements inopportuns. Cet article examine l'historique de la plannification territorial des reserves autochtones du Canada, decrit un accord recement conclut entre un groupe de tributs et le gouvernement du Canada, et presente un nouveau module pour la plannification des reserves autochtones.

Mots cles: amenagement des terres autochtones, amenagement du territoire

Introduction (3)

"... planning is defined as the process of protecting and improving the living, production and recreation environments ... through the proper use and development of land. Human behaviour is very adaptable and human beings can sustain great environmental stress before breaking down, but the chief aim of good planning is to strain this adaptability as little as possible." (1)

"Despite enormous problems facing indigenous communities, they are perhaps best positioned to repatriate traditional planning approaches as well asadapt those mainstream practices that make them more culturally resilient." (2)

In a recent article on Indigenous Planning, Ted Jojola lucidly highlights a new 'emergence' of indigenous planning in the United States (Jojola 2008). In his article, Jojola makes it clear that land use planning on Aboriginal lands has in the past been less than successful, with little to do with Aboriginal realities and more to do with western planning concepts. In general, planning on Aboriginal lands has historically been carried out by outside practitioners without much appreciation or consideration for traditional knowledge and cultural identity (Jojola 2000). Within the Aboriginal reserves of Canada, the conditions are similar, and in addition to being sporadic, piecemeal, and subject to fluctuating funding, land planning processes on First Nation reserves are often usurped by outside practitioners linked to larger architectural or engineering firms that seem to be focused on the potential building or infrastructural work that might arise out of the final plan. Further, activities linked to planning are generally assigned to individuals from outside the communities. (4) Many First Nations have "Physical Development Plans," 'Comprehensive Community Development Plans' and other federally advocated (and funded) plan types for their reserve lands, yet these tend to fall within formulaic and top-down processes, all-the-while failing to consider other possible planning approaches. A general lack of adequate appreciation for long term world-views, for example, results from these plans and is one of the main reasons for the unsuccessful outcomes, Joloja discusses a more recent, 'positive' trend towards more multidisciplinary planning approaches in the United States (Jojola 2008). …

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