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Gathering place: Urban indigeneity and the production of space in Edmonton, Canada

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Most major Canadian cities have displaced existing indigenous settlements and gathering places. The city of Edmonton, Canada today includes what will soon be the nation’s largest urban Aboriginal population. Though urban space and planning reflect colonial relationships, it has launched progressive initiatives preceding and following the work of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This article examines material and intangible traces of Aboriginal history and cultural presence in a theoretical context concerned with public spaces promoting transformative, dialogic, cross-cultural encounters. Case studies consider urban spaces as gathering places in terms of their relevance to indigenous practices of metissage. What is at stake for settler colonial cities in the recognition and inclusion of indigenous presence and historical relationships? Aboriginal cultures can and must play a critical role in the development of a mature civic identity rooted in a complex mutual history, with implications for urban social and ecological sustainability in the future.
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Keywords: Edmonton; city planning; metissage; pehonan; placemaking; public space; urban indigenous populations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Athabasca University

Publication date: 01 September 2016

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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