Indigenous peoples and planning in Canada and Australia


Recent research has highlighted how integrally linked the issue of Indigenous land justice is with land-use planning processes. The research, led by Dr Libby Porter, a specialist in how planning interfaces with Indigenous peoples, looked at how Indigenous rights and title are recognised (and where they are not) in land-use planning systems in Victoria and in British Columbia, Canada. Even in what appear to be very standardised planning systems, the research found that recognition of Indigenous peoples rights and title to land is extremely varied.

The research was unique in looking explicitly at questions of recognition of Indigenous rights and title in urban development contexts, where this is extremely limited and often non-existent. Such questions have been the subject of considerable investigation in natural resource management and protected area management contexts, but little has been done to apply similar thinking in places where traditional country has been fully urbanised.

By working with four Indigenous nations, two here in Victoria and two in British Columbia, the project has highlighted how structures and norms embedded within planning systems are enormously influential. High levels of policy prescription, or entrenched planning norms about process and knowledge, or assumptions about the legitimacy of Indigenous property rights in certain spaces, all present significant discursive and material structures working against recognition practices.

However, the research also highlighted how innovations, led by Indigenous Nations, in planning can lead to far greater outcomes in recognition as well as land and resource management outcomes. For more information, contact Dr. Porter at