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Habiter le Nord québécois


Habiter le Nord québécois


Indigenous Planning

Apply Inuit Planning Principles

Hilda Snowball

Visions for the future: towards truly Northern living environments (2019)

"How can we indigenize the policies that we are facing in our communities? How can we indigenize the requirements that are made, for example the building codes? How can we have an input - our own Inuit ways? Because Inuit have knowledge as well."

The complexity of Nunavik’s housing production system, combined with the short timeframe for materials delivery and building, make it hard for communities and decision makers to rethink village planning. The limited human and financial resources, the existing housing and development frameworks, and the multiplication of instances in charge make it less appealing for locals to get involved in the process and have their say through bottom-up initiatives to initiate change. Although open to such change, the planning instances maintain their current ways borrowed from the South. These ways include masterplans that appear to be driven more by infrastructure and zoning than by local resources and economy, land and environment, community and culture. How then can village planning be done the Inuit way?

What We've Learned

Paths for Change

Indigenous planning is a concept shared by nations around the globe and refers to the local and intuitive ways of production of vernacular settlements. It relies on a place-based approach in which settlement strategies are directly linked to the context and realities of each community and their land. It counts on both contemporary and traditional knowledge to reveal the inseparable relationships between places, people, ancestors, and other living beings. Indigenous planning principles and approaches align with Nunavik’s evolving structures and lead to planning strategies that are guided more by self-determination than by colonization.

Indigenous planning is not only a process but also an outcome that can empower communities through collaboration. In accordance with Two-Eyed Seeing principles, its strategies recognize the co-existence of two planning entities—“State” and “Inuit”. This approach can lead to a rethinking of local practices and regulations to better adapt planning tools and innovate. Masterplans and zoning by-laws tend to hinder local involvement and resist “outside the box thinking”. Innovative approaches should rely on flexibility to allow for future transformation through scenarios, which can illustrate resilient development rather than standard regulations, particularly in the face of demographic and climate changes.

Moreover, the 7th Generation concept can guide sustainable planning principles: the knowledge of the past informs that of the present, which together build a vision for the future.

Calls to Action

1. Involve the community

  • Give Nunavimmiut the central voice in the planning of village expansions or transformations.

  • Foster community-driven approaches to decision making and planning, such as the Parnasimautik consultation.

  • Put forth collaborative design processes.

2. Make way for local knowledge

  • Place traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) at the heart of decision-making processes.

  • Adopt decolonized planning methods and rely on actual context-based approaches grounded in Inuit ways of thinking, doing, and being.

3. Plan with the past, present and future in mind

  • Look to the 7th Generation when making decisions today: remember the legacy while considering the impact on future generations.

4. Create and implement flexible planning tools and processes

  • Think outside the “functionalist” toolbox.

  • Develop innovative decision-making tools and planning methods that support community resilience: form-based codes, locally-grounded scenarios that allow for flexibility, collaborative design, decision-making committees involving NV and Landholding representatives, etc.

Pinasuqatigiitsuta, this guide’s name, means “working together for the common good”. This online collaborative decision-making tool supports the sustainable and resilient planning of tomorrow’s Northern Villages—for Inuit, by Inuit.

This innovative guide focuses on the desirable qualities for sustainable Inuit living environments rather than current land-use planning approaches. It proposes a cyclical process of iterative steps that center on local assets and perspectives, as well as on flexibility.

The guide highlights 11 community planning principles that apply to three areas of interest: land and environment, community and culture, local resources and economy. Each principle is further explained with illustrated scenarios for change, applicable in different areas of a typical Nunavik village (with Kangiqsualujjuaq as an example). A step-by-step guideline to implement the scenarios ensures that community goals are aligned with Inuit way of life and desirable futures.

Watch video here

By M. Bayle, A. Paquet and F. Trottier, École d’architecture de l’Université Laval, 2020

A Guide for Flexible and Resilient Community Planning for and by Inuit

Innovations: Thinking Outside the Box

Outside the Box Innovations

Inuit Community Planning Guide

Inuit Community Planning Guide

Planning Tool

Sustainable Kuujjuarapik

Sustainable Kuujjuarapik

Community Planning

Consolidating “Old” Kuujjuaq

Consolidating “Old” Kuujjuaq

Community Planning

Strategic Scenarios for Salluit

Strategic Scenarios for Salluit

Community Planning

Hackathon Kuujjuaq

Hackathon Kuujjuaq

Tactical Reuse


Open Access


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