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Nunavut Urban Futures: Spatial Practices and Territorial Tactics - Lola Sheppard

The Canadian Arctic, and Nunavut in particular, is one of the fastest-growing regions per capita in the country, raising the question of what might constitute an Arctic Indigenous urbanism? One of the cultural challenges of an urbanizing Canadian North is that for most Indigenous peoples, permanent settlement, with the imposition of spatial, temporal, economic and institutional structures that came with it, has been antithetical to traditional ways of life and culture, which are deeply tied to land and seasons. Throughout the past seventy-five years, architecture, infrastructure, and settlement form were imported models, and have served as spatial tools of cultural colonization, which neutralized local cultural and geographic specificities. As communities in Nunavut continue to grow at a rapid rate, new frameworks to planning are urgently needed. This presentation outlines three ideas or approaches that might constitute the beginning of more culturally reflective planning practices for Nunavut: 1) Redefining what might constitute a northern urban vernacular and its potential role in design, 2) Challenging the current top-down masterplan by embracing strategies of informal urbanism, 3) Encouraging master planning approaches which embrace territorial strategies more responsive to geography, landscape and seasonality.