Comprehensive community planning : learning from practice with the Haida Village of Skidegate Babalos, Krystie; Williams, Jessica
Haida First Nations have lived on Haida Gwaii, “the Islands of the People” in Haida, since time immemorial and have been actively planning to preserve their language, culture, land and resources. In 2012, the Haida Village of Skidegate received funding from the British Columbia Capacity Initiative (BCCI) to create a Comprehensive Community Plan (CCP) as a road map to greater self-sufficiency and sustainability. They decided to establish a planning process led by and for their community with support from UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) Indigenous Community Planning Specialization. This Masters Project reports on the planning process, outcomes and learnings of SCARP practicum students Krystie Babalos and Jessa Williams that worked alongside the Haida Village of Skidegate. SCARP’s Indigenous Community Planning specialization promotes partnerships that support Indigenous communities to achieve their own aspirations for sustainable development. The planning practicum is a requirement within the specialization and provides students with the opportunity to gain practical experience planning alongside a First Nation. This report is a marked component of our Masters Project and is a model of how community planning can come together in rich ways, showcasing our approach and reflections as emerging planners and practicum students. Our overall approach and methodology was one of collaborative planning, where we formed a partnership with the local Haida planning team based on mutual respect, understanding and responsibility. In the past, under the Indian Act and federally mandated planning on Indigenous reserves in Canada, Indigenous community members have generally not been recognized or engaged as active planning leaders in their own planning processes. In this context of collaborative planning, however, it was important that the local Haida team lead the planning process and work with us to create a CCP that is community based, community driven and part of a community owned process. This partnership was guided by a Mutual Learning Agreement that outlined our mutual vision, objectives, principles, ethics, communication and work plan. A CCP team was formed in January with leadership from Skidegate’s Chief Administrative Officer Barbara Stevens, and included CCP coordinator Dana Moraes, CCP assistant Janine Williams, CCP youth mentee, Ryan Barnes, and SCARP students Krystie Babalos and Jessa Williams, each with our own roles. Our role as planning practicum students’ was to collaboratively plan with the local CCP team by learning from, supporting and contributing to the CCP process design and implementation. Together, our team co-created a six-month planning process with four phases of planning: Preparing to Plan, Planning in Action, Developing a “Living Plan” and Celebrating the CCP and Partnership. Within each phase, we collaborated on a number of tools, techniques and resources with the local planning team. The Haida Village of Skidegate’s CCP process had many strengths; it was community based, culturally appropriate and two-way capacity driven, with the plan having the goal of enabling sustainable development. It did face the challenge of being constrained in time and resources by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s (AANDC) British Columbia Capacity Initiative (BBCI)’s funding cycle. Nevertheless, the CCP team continues to plan beyond this funding cycle. They are extending the CCP into the next phases of planning so as to gather all relevant information, plan in action, document a living plan with clear priorities and an action plan, establish a monitoring and evaluation system and celebrate as a community.Future practicum students and communities who hope to complete a partnership together should consider the practice of collaborative planning and the importance of developing relationships of respect, cross-cultural awareness, clear communication, mutual responsibility and co-learning, while respecting the pace, rhythm and culture of the community.
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