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Danielle Desjarlais and Kateri Lucier-Laboucan, Indigenous Design Studio at Brook McIlroy Inc.

Indigenous Planning Perspectives Task Force Report


The Intent of Our Recommendations

The focus of our mandate was about moving the profession and non-Indigenous OPPI members forward in understanding Indigenous perspectives in planning and the TRC’s Calls to Action. OPPI is currently comprised largely of non-Indigenous members.

We acknowledge that some professional planners are Indigenous. and we apologize for any generalizations and omissions arising from our focus. We have come to understand through this process that significant planning work is being done within Indigenous communities by Indigenous practitioners who are not affiliated with OPPI, or, for that matter, with the Ontario Planning Act.

We also recognize that, ultimately, OPPI’s journey is a shared one with Indigenous Peoples and partners. That journey will involve listening, creating spaces and places, and fostering face-to-face relationships as important ways to deepen understanding of and make progress towards reconciliation. Our intent here is to start OPPI on its journey by setting out what OPPI needs to do organizationally, with its members, and for the profession more generally. Our recommendations have both short- and longer-term elements. There is a huge amount of work to be done towards reconciliation. With this in mind, actions must be of appropriate scope to OPPI’s mission, consistent with the capabilities of the organization (human and financial), and flexible and adaptive to help enable progress over time. We have tried to be practical and paced in our approach.

If accepted, these recommendations need to translate to action. We foresee a roadmap that ensures progress and accountability.


  1. Communication: Increasing awareness among OPPI members of Indigenous perspectives, including the “Truth” of how planning has been used as a colonizing tool, as well as communicating opportunities for authentic and more meaningful practice.
  2. Broaden Engagement: Committing to work directly with Indigenous planners and communities to establish relationships, strategies, and structures to continue the dialogue, gather advice, share knowledge, and support the implementation of recommendations outlined here.
  3. Formal Commitment: Developing a meaningful, authentic public statement of OPPI’s commitment to the reconciliation journey.
  4. Leadership Competency: Building cultural competency in OPPI Council and staff.
  5. Organizational Policies, Practices, Programs and Tools: Embedding Indigenous perspectives into the organization.
  6. Reciprocal Relationships: Establishing meaningful, respectful relationships with Indigenous organizations and people.

The Profession 

  1. Professional Requirement for New Planners: Updating professional requirements to include competency in cultural training and related topics, such as TRC’s Calls to Action, UNDRIP, treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous worldviews, teachings, and practices related to planning.
  2. Continuous Professional Learning (CPL) for Current Planners: Building opportunities for existing planners to obtain training in Indigenous culture and planning perspectives.
  3. Facilitation of Learning: Developing a broad range of resources and learning opportunities for OPPI members, primarily led by Indigenous trainers.
  4. Relevant Legislation and Initiatives: Keeping OPPI members up to date on new legislation and Indigenous on legislative initiatives.

Recommendations / Actions: Longer Term 


  1. Indigenous Capacity Building and System Change: Finding ways to ally with Indigenous communities to bridge gaps and affect broad change through legislative review.

The Profession 

  1. Recognition of Indigenous Knowledge: Identifying and encouraging steps towards the decolonization of planning.
  2. Indigenous Students: Creating opportunities that bring more Indigenous people to the planning profession.
  3. Pathways to Certification: Making planning certification more inclusive of Indigenous planners.

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.