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By: Calvin Brook, Daniel Millette, and Susan Robertson
To Task Force Members:
The following is a start — and a rough draft only — to provide context for any recommendations the Task Force may provide to OPPI Council. This is based on the approach that the desire to address reconciliation requires, as a starting point, substantive knowledge of the “Truth” within the “Truth and Reconciliation” paradigm.
The following text is very incomplete and welcomes input. We have tried to balance research with the direct voices of Indigenous leaders — those most qualified to speak to an Indigenous perspective. In developing this draft further, more direct voices from Indigenous leaders would be beneficial.
The impacts of this dispossession of Indigenous lands has been, and remains, at the core of the devastation that has been experienced by Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The following statistics begin to tell the story:
Awareness of these histories and current realities provide the necessary context and are a prerequisite for developing planning initiatives or policies that impact Indigenous communities. Being able to acknowledge the injustices of the past and present and how they continue to challenge Indigenous communities is, in itself, key to a planner’s capacity to develop a working relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
The planning profession is focused on the disposition of land and resources. Planners by profession rely on tools borne out of the colonial era — surveying, land titles, GRDS imposition, and so on. Planners therefore have the opportunity to be at the forefront of the seismic shift in policies governing land and resources that are presently in motion. In particular, the Canadian Government’s stated commitment to:
..... the constitutional reform and repatriation of Indigenous lands and resource rights and/or compensations which these policies will set in motion.
Bill C-262 legislation currently under review in the Senate harmonizes federal laws with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. If passed, it will have wide-ranging impacts on the restitution of land and resources for Indigenous Peoples.
Extracts from Bill C-262
Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources.
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the Indigenous peoples concerned.
States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with Indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to Indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of Indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.
2. Unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples concerned, compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources equal in quality, size and legal status or of monetary compensation or other appropriate redress.
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for Indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of Indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.
3. States shall also take effective measures to ensure, as needed, that programmes for monitoring, maintaining and restoring the health of Indigenous peoples, as developed and implemented by the peoples affected by such materials, are duly implemented.
Cover image: Danielle Desjarlais and Kateri Lucier-Laboucan, Indigenous Design Studio at Brook McIlroy Inc.
The graphic is based on the Prophesy of the Seven Fires of the Anishinaabe and the idea that we are currently in the time of the seventh fire, when a choice will be made that will determine the future. This is highly relevant to the issue of planning and climate change. This is why the seventh fire at the top of the graphic is without colour. The outcome is up to us as a collective.