Executive Summary of Roundtable Priorities

At the closing session each Roundtable presented a short summary of their priorities. These are summarized below.

Theme: Belonging

Roundtable 1: Health, Trauma, and Transitions

We need to re-frame our system from one of healing individuals, to one of healing people within community. Healing can occur through the arts, non-traditional healing processes, and sharing stories in a different way. Reconciliation is not only for Indigenous people. Healing inter-generational bystander trauma is everyone’s responsibility. We need to nurture community resiliency, and support families.

Roundtable 2: Social Isolation

Social isolation is one of the biggest challenges for Indigenous well being. What is important to us as humans is that we matter, we have purpose and belong. The table emphasized the need to fund existing initiatives and good ideas. For example, the City of Vancouver Seniors’ Advisory Committee have made 23 recommendations that Council can engage with right away to improve safety, walkability, sociability, and transit. Other good ideas include the Hey Neighbour program, engaging fire and rescue services, and creating more spaces for education to build understanding for all peoples.

Roundtable 3: Cultural Identity

This table saw the Longhouse as a physical manifestation of cultural expression. They saw the potential for the City and others to think of Vancouver itself as a longhouse where cultures can thrive and languages be respected. If done in a way that avoids cultural appropriation and is led by people from longhouse cultures, it could be a way to address cultural displacement. There was a desire to experience and express culture free from institutions, expensive and difficult processes and red tape; affirming Potlatches; welcoming other cultures to be able to celebrate with us. In addition, the table suggested that city employees should learn about Indigenous communities and cultures and write an exam about them.

Roundtable 4: Mixed topics

Despite the wide variations in participants’ backgrounds, this table identified common themes including: affordable housing, inclusion, and funding. It recommended that the City put an intersectional lens on city planning to create a woman-friendly city; review municipal housing policy; and provide safe, subsidized housing for Indigenous women, families, and seniors.

Roundtable 5: Food For All

Food is what brings people together, providing connection, social inclusion, skill building, and cultural sharing. This can be achieved through supporting neighborhood-based food programs, funded from the social services sector. The table highlighted examples of successful initiatives including: the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House; the Indigenous Food Sovereignty Principles and working group; rewilding of urban spaces; and the Britannia food programs.

Theme: Equity

Roundtable 6: Colonization and Discrimination

This roundtable actively addressed historical, current and future impacts of colonization, emphasizing the difference between the colonizer and Indigenous world views, particularly the difference of Indigenous matrilineal world values. The table’s recommendations included rewriting the Vancouver Charter to reflect Indigenous worldviews; fund an Indigenous Commission; establish an Indigenous Ombudsperson at the city level; and improve relationship accountability and allyship.

Roundtable 7: Income Gap and Poverty Reduction

The table’s priority was enforcing and expanding existing economic policies and financial instruments to address gentrification and poverty, ensuring that civic infrastructure is in place at the neighbourhood level (community centers, libraries etc.) so that people can be engaged in their communities. This includes the need for accessible housing and transportation and child care (a strong pillar in poverty reduction). It was suggested that an Indigenous lens be put on planning in – from the grassroots all the way to city council – with funding and training to implement reconciliation.

Roundtable 8: Community Empowerment

The consensus of this table was that the City needs a stronger neighbourhood focus, empowering neighbourhoods through co-creation. This should include a Department of Neighborhoods/neighborhood councils incorporating existing assets such as neighbourhood houses, and including an audit of consultation and decision making practices to reveal areas where there are gaps. Participants supported creating an Indigenous planning department at the City of Vancouver; mandatory cultural competency training for neighbourhood and city staff; and using co-creation participatory methods to build trust and networks among communities.

Roundtable 9: Empowering Youth

This table advocated four actions: 1.Create a city action plan to address youth homelessness; 2. Dedicate a percentage of seats devoted to youth at leadership tables; 3. Support youth-run, youth specific spaces such as the Britannia Teen Centre, Sunset Community Centre and the Global Lounge at UBC; 4. Support #allonboard – youth on affordable transportation.

Roundtable 10: Empowering through Research

The research table focused on the need to share knowledge and recommended creating ways in which research can be brought to decision making tables, using for example a web portal and an advisory group; bringing forward research from the city and outside it; and daylighting data. What is needed is a nexus that connects the city, the community, and the academy. It saw the advantage of creating knowledge brokers in key thematic areas. The table also identified the need to be clear about the distinctions between the types of research being undertaken – for example between consulting research, independent research, or policy evaluation research, etc.

Theme: Design of Places and Spaces

Roundtable 11: Access and Mobility

The roundtable argued strongly for an accessibility strategy for all that will allow everyone to live, work, learn, play, and heal in a walkable, livable city, with equitable access to transit and parking. Accessibility audits and scoring of civic and other buildings is needed to monitor progress. Specific concerns identified about transportation included: construction zones, driveways, sidewalks, transcity services, bike education in elementary schools, regulation of ride hailing, and better access for low income people to transportation and all city services.

Roundtable 12: Participatory Planning and Design

The table focused on what it means to do meaningful engagement, sharing processes to do it well; concerns about procurement and timing and the need for flexibility in timelines and process; recognizing and addressing barriers to participation; the need for innovative processes that are inclusive, and the use of a variety of different engagement strategies to reach a variety of individuals. There was common concern that engagement needs to be continual – bridging to implementation and action – not just planning; and bringing shared common values identified in the process into decision-making.

Roundtable 13: Where and How We Live

The obvious issues of affordability, suitability, security of tenure, long term sustainability of space, and the need to simplify regulations were discussed, and consensus reached that affordability should be prioritized over everything else. It is important to acknowledge that the issues around housing are NOT just about housing. The table’s message to decision makers was to focus on the bigger social and economic picture; the issue is global and affects all sectors. Base decisions on gathering better data on needs and wants of citizens; to truly discover how people want to live. There was strong interest in community-led projects and non-profit organizations, suggesting that moving land ownership into their control could lead to better outcomes. There was also desire to see a balancing of all socio-economic backgrounds in all neighbourhoods, creating healthier more balanced communities.

Roundtable 14: Where and How We Work

This table called for “re-planning planning” around values rather than physical space, allowing us to transition to more agile planning, better able to respond to new economies, social infrastructure, technologies etc. There was a call for equity for workers in terms of infrastructure and also a living wage and benefits for workers in the city. Other suggestions included: incentivising and removing barriers for better opportunities for work; inclusionary zoning; co-creating places to foster better connections, investing in groups like 312 Main, libraries, communities, and investing more to support BIAs and hubs of mixed use knowledge centers.

Roundtable 15: Public Space

Participants at this table advocated for bolder, fearless and more experimental design, planning and programming for public space, allowing more room for experimentation and pilot projects. They recommended expanding opportunities for community stewardship, emphasizing the need for designs that are unique to each community, not a one-size-fits-all approach. They called for a plurality of different kinds of spaces; applying a social equity lens; greater accessibility; inclusive, informal places combined with deliberate space.

Overarching Frameworks

Roundtable 16: Resilient Organizations

Features of resilient organizations include: reciprocal relationships between individuals, collectives, and organizations; and risk taking, flourishing, empathy, and empowerment versus vulnerability, trauma, and despair. The table emphasized the importance of the foundations – in order to thrive, organizations need to have a strong base of space, culture, funding, and individuals that work for them. Resilient organizations need time and space to accomplish their goals. Resilient organizations build strong relationships and take care of their people. The City of Vancouver can build its own resiliency by having stronger ongoing relationships internally and externally, not just temporary ones based on project based consultations.

Roundtable 17: Intersectionality

This roundtable gained consensus on a definition of the term: “Intersectionality is a dynamic and contextual analytical framework and tool rooted in social justice identifying how interlocking systems of power affect people according to race, class, sex, etc”. The participants advocated applying a gendered intersectional framework to all city and community policies. To do so requires dedicated educational initiatives including ongoing professional development and learning from the community. Meaningful evaluation of the success or outcomes must be defined in collaboration with relevant community members. Intersectionality initiatives must be resourced sufficiently. The table called for the City to create a designated staff liaison person to assist community organizations to integrate intersectionality in their policies, programs, and practices.

Roundtable 18: Reconciliation

The roundtable referenced Joe Biden’s quote, “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” It called for getting the resources to the people on the ground who are already doing this work. Confirming that territory (land) is critically important requires a recognition that the urban Indigenous communities are refugees of colonialism and raised the issue that there are more supports for other refugees than for Indigenous refugees. The table called for the deconstruction of colonial systems and the need to smash colonial protocols. The human behind the institutions needs to show up.

Roundtable 19: Mixed Group

This group’s common recommendations clustered around: increasing affordability (housing, living wage) so that others can move to or afford to stay in the city; building diversity and equity into systems; decolonizing all city processes and policies; and recognizing that housing is a human right, essential to health. The table also recommended building continuity of membership into City Advisory Boards and Committees.

JB The First Lady