This year, in my summer position as CIP’s Policy, Public Affairs and Projects Assistant, I was fortunate to be a part of CIP – and proximate to many other national organizations – in celebrating National Indigenous History Month. It was a full program intended for built environment professionals. To help conclude the month, as well as to update members who may have missed it, I’ve pulled together a summary of events and takeaways below.  
The first event kicked off with the Douglas Cardinal: Architect of the Future film screening on June 3, followed by a conversation with the world-renowned architect Douglas Cardinal OC, FRAIC. What I learned from this conversation was a vital thought, in which he emphasized to professionals in the built environment: that it is extremely important to actually listen, not just to the people we design for, but to the nature which we design in. Reconciliation, as Elder Cardinal points out, is not about having outsiders – no matter how intelligent they are – solving problems without asking, but rather the decision to go to communities in need and actually engage with them.
Additional Resource: Check out the Canadian Urbanism Institute’s 5 Key Takeaways from the film and discussion, as well as the recording of the conversation.  
Our second partnered event was a panel on National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21), Indigenous Practitioner Perspectives on City Building, which featured CIP’s Director, Tonii Lerat RPP, MCIP, alongside four other equally impressive Indigenous professionals. The event began with a digital smudge by moderator, Hunter Douglas. It was a beautiful tradition that is done to cleanse the individual, to seal out negativity and seal in positivity, to set our intentions and values for what we wish to accomplish, and as well, to call in our ancestors to help guide the work that we are doing. A key takeaway for me, was the idea that city building is often found to be indigenizing spaces (a process where spaces are initially built with an European-centric approach and afterwards attempted to be reshaped into Indigenous-friendly environment), rather than building them from an Indigenous perspectives at the very beginning. The 5 panelists provided thought-provoking insights to this issue, touching on ideas such as advocating for more relevant and meaningful education, listening to Indigenous perspectives and bringing them into the planning process, and supporting more diversity in the profession itself.
The following day, CIP’s Community-Based Decision Making Through Land Use Planning Under Land Codes webinar as held. Led by Adam Wright RPP, MCIP, and Stephen McGlenn from the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre (LABRC), they discussed how planners and consultants can improve the profession and its impact on Indigenous communities through: the decolonization of planning, building trust in the planning profession, and creating a collaborative effort between local governments and Indigenous communities.
Additional Resources: The LABRC has provided links to the tools and templates shown during their presentation, which includes their Lands Governance Manual, their Framework Agreement, and their list of First Nation Signatories. In addition, the LABRC also has a Resource Centre dedicated towards knowledge sharing.
On June 25, Transforming Health and Wellness Planning in British Columbia took place, presented by the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). The webinar addressed the importance of a more empathetic approach when it comes to community health and wellness planning, especially for Indigenous communities. I took away from this webinar the knowledge that the principle of all planning should be grounded in community values, culture, and traditions, and these ultimately become community priorities in the planning process. The conversation was insightful in discussing the work that the FNHA is committed to achieving, and – for any individuals looking to incorporate the principles of their community-driven, Nation-based approach – the presenters provided accessible toolkits and templates for planning professionals to use.
Additional Resources: The FNHA has provided links to the tools and templates shown during their presentation, which includes their Toolkit, their Celebrating Culture Tool, their Sample Engagement and Communications Plan, and their Sample Implementation Work Plan.
Looking back at the month and all the amazing events I had the opportunity to participate in, I realized that while it is important to highlight Indigenous perspectives and culture during National Indigenous History Month, it is just equally as important, if not even more so, to recognize that the work in supporting Indigenous communities does not end on the last day of the month.
Though I only recently joined CIP, it is clear that our team and the organization as a whole, is committed towards upholding the Planning Practice and Reconciliation Policy and the organizational priorities set to not only working collaboratively with the Indigenous peoples, but to support, empower, and enhance Indigenous Nations in all aspects of the planning profession and beyond.
Additional Resources: Recordings of CIP’s webinars for National Indigenous History Month 2021, as well as past years, are available for members to watch for free on the Professional Learning HUB.
Notable keynote addresses made at past CIP conferences include Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm’s presentation on Bending Lines and Making Circles, and Dr. Hayden King’s speech on Indigenous Land Relationships can also be found online to watch for free.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn