Indigenous Community Planning Concentration in MCRP


Honoured friends and relatives,

My name is Wayne Sparrow, Chief of the Musqueam Indian Band. I welcome all of the students that have come to University of British Columbia  located on the traditional unceded lands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking Musqueam people.

The SCARP program in partnership with Musqueam incorporates the Musqueam’s award-winning Sustainable Comprehensive Community Plan (CCP). There is much to be learned from Musqueam’s CCP.

Thank you all,

Chief Wayne Sparrow


ICP Website:   |    ICP Program Requirements



The SCARP ICP program has been designated a noteworthy practice by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB). See


The ICP Program was a Public Sector finalist in the 2016 Land Awards presented at the Real Estate Foundation of BC Land Awards Gala held October 21, 2016.



ICP program video commissioned by the Real Estate Foundation of BC (a longer version of this video can be found on the ICP website)



Indigenous peoples everywhere have been managing their land and resource base, planning their communities, and passing on teachings, including traditional ecological knowledge, since time immemorial. The Musqueam people reinstated this tradition in modern form in creating a Comprehensive Community Plan (CCP). In February 2013, Musqueam’s CCP was recognized by and included on UN Habitat’s website as a Best Practice plan for sustainable community development.

SCARP is honoured to be in a teaching and learning partnership with the Musqueam Indian Band in the design and delivery of our new ICP concentration. Launched in Fall 2012, and designed to attract Indigenous and non-Indigenous students who want to work with Indigenous communities, we are looking for six committed students each year to enter this program and join us on this learning journey.

ICP Mission

Our intent is to train a new generation of community planners who will break with the colonial legacy and culture of planning in order to work in respectful partnership with Indigenous communities. We seek to empower emerging community planners working with Indigenous communities with the necessary theory, skills, knowledge, and capacity to support those communities in achieving their own aspirations for land stewardship, cultural revitalization, strong governance, health and well-being. Our approach is grounded in community and land-based learning; emphasizes mutual and transformative learning; and integrates these principles with grounding in an Indigenous worldview. Our scope is Canada-wide, but with a focus on practical learning with/in First Nations communities in BC, where historical legacies as well as current political, economic and demographic realities present numerous complex issues, including health, education, employment, resource management and governance.

 ICP program architecture and description

In addition to the required SCARP core courses: --

-- students in the ICP concentration take an additional four core courses; complete an eight month Practicum in a First Nations community in their second year; and an Internship with a First Nations community or Aboriginal organization, usually during the summer between first and second year.

ICP program: four core courses (12 credits) + Practicum (Plan 547C & Plan 548T - 12 credits) + Internship (3 credits) = 27 credits. The core course requirements are outlined below.

We require an Internship of 80-100 hours to be completed with an Indigenous organization before the second year of the program. Examples of current internships include placements in the Musqueam Band office; with the BC regional office of AANDC on their Indigenous Nation to Nation mentoring program; with Vancouver Native Health on an urban Aboriginal engagement project in the Aboriginal Garden at UBC Farm; and with the Aboriginal Housing Association in Vancouver.

In addition to the Internship and core courses (see below), the centre-piece of the ICP program is the Practicum, which occupies 50% of students’ time in their second year. The intent of the Practicum is to immerse students (usually in pairs) in a BC First Nations community engaged in a community planning process for eight months (involving four to five separate trips at different times of the year). The intent is to engage them in community planning issues, opportunities and activities current in that community. The Instructor for the Practicum, Jeff Cook, together with students, undertakes to first co-create a mutual learning agreement, ethical protocol and work plan with the First Nations who have agreed to host our students, and the timelines for students’ residence in the communities are then set for the mutual convenience of students and community. The Instructor accompanies and mentors the students during various visits. The Practicum ends with a public presentation (in the community and at UBC’s Longhouse or Musqueam’s Cultural Centre), a journal submission, and a reflective essay by the students, in addition to the work they have delivered for the communities summarized in a professional project report. Students are also graded on class participation and cultural sensitivity. Students meet and reflect on an ongoing basis, debriefing, analyzing and supporting their experiences as part of their peer-to-peer learning.


In 2012-13, we had two students placed with the Skidegate Band Council on Haida Gwaii, and two with the Gitksan Government Commission in Hazelton, northwest BC. In 2013-14, two students continued the work with the Skidegate Band Council, another two were placed with the Seabird Island First Nation, and the third pair worked with the Tobacco Plains Nation. In 2014-15, partnerships continued with the Skidegate Band Council and Seabird Island First Nation, and a new relationship began with the Lake Babine Nation in north central BC.


Progress into the Practicum in second year is contingent on a satisfactory academic performance in core courses in first year, as well as demonstrated cultural and professional competence, as evidenced through the internship, interpersonal communication, and self-reflective papers. ICP instructors review progress periodically with students to ensure suitability and readiness.


Other features of the program include: Musqueam hosts a feast and introduction to cultural protocol in their Longhouse or Cultural Centre during Orientation Week for all incoming SCARP students and faculty; and Musqueam makes an extensive contribution to the foundation course, PLAN 548P, as well as providing teachings into the Indigenous Law and Governance course, Qualitative Methods, and Ecological Planning. 

Where possible, we teach in circle, and emphasize the importance of building relationships at all levels, starting within the program and reaching out.

Here is a link to the ICP website for further information about the Practicum, Internships, and students currently in the program:


ICP Website


ICP core course requirements (see also MCRP Program Requirements)

PLAN 533: Indigenous Community Planning: ways of being, knowing and doing (Leonie Sandercock and various Musqueam knowledge holders)

Plan 503: Planning for Community Economic Development (Will Trousdale)

Plan 538: Cross-Cultural Planning (alternate years)

PLAN 553: Indigenous Law and Governance (Crystal Reeves) offered on alternate years, starting 2012-13

Recommended Electives at SCARP

PLAN 595: Facilitation, Negotiation, and Conflict Resolution for Planners. (Aftab Erfan)

PLAN 548: Current Issues in Planning: Digital Video for Planners

Recommended Electives at other UBC Departments

EDST 565F: Appreciative Inquiry 2A

SOWK 425: First Nations Social Issues (Richard Vedan)

SPPH 536: Aboriginal People and Public Health: Ethics, Policy & Practice (Patricia Spittal)

FRST 522 First Nations and Forest Land Management

POLI 406 Aboriginal Peoples and Canadian Politics – Indigenous Peoples and the “Politics of Recognition” in Colonial Contexts (Glen Coulthard)

FNIS 320 001  Indigenous Methods Seminar (Dory Nason)

Courses can be taken at other universities through the Western Deans' agreement:

Simon Fraser University Course:

REM 662: First Nations and Co-Management

This curriculum has been designed in conversation with the ICP Advisory Committee (see below); in cooperation with the Musqueam Indian Band on whose traditional territory UBC is located.


There are a series of questions we explore through the core curriculum and the Practicum:


▪   What is the meaning and significance of Indigenous Planning as a re-emerging theory of action among Indigenous community planners, civic leaders, and professionals?

▪   What values underpin Indigenous approaches to community development?

▪   How does an Indigenous planning paradigm challenge existing planning practice in Canada?

▪   How does mainstream planning need to adapt and change to achieve recognition of and justice for Indigenous peoples?

▪   Is it possible to ‘decolonize’ planning? How? What would this process look like?

▪   What is a ‘decolonizing methodology’? What are the ethical and cultural considerations in working with First Nations?

▪   What is the role of a non-Indigenous planner in Indigenous community planning and development?

▪   What do you need to know and what skill sets do you need if you are working with/in an Indigenous community?

▪   What challenges do First Nations in BC face in implementing projects in their on-Reserve and off-Reserve communities?

▪   How do surrounding jurisdictions (municipal, provincial and federal) impact Indigenous planning? How does First Nations community development (social and economic) affect surrounding jurisdictions? How do federal and provincial jurisdiction and policies impact FN community development?

To hear Leonie Sandercock discuss the Indigenous Community Planning concentration and to learn about the Teach-in in we organized in November 2011 on the theme 'Revitalizing Planning: the Indigenous Challenge’, click on the following link:

ICP Advisory Committee:

Co-Chairs, Leonie Sandercock (Professor, SCARP) & Leona Sparrow (Musqueam, Director, Treaty, Lands and Resources, and Adjunct Professor, SCARP):

Lyana Patrick (Carrier, SCARP PhD student); Spencer Lindsay (SCARP ICP graduate, Cree-Metis); Michael Anhorn (BC Mental Health, SCARP graduate); Jeff Cook (Beringia Community Planning and SCARP Instructor); Dianne Sparrow (Musqueam); Larissa Grant (Musqueam); Leanne Martinson (AANDC, Chalath First Nation); Nathan Edelson (42nd St Consulting, SCARP Adjunct).

The role of the Advisory Committee is to give advice on curriculum content and structure; recruitment and retention of Indigenous students; funding opportunities; and any other matters determined by the co-chairs.

SCARP gratefully acknowledges funding from the Real Estate Foundation of BC (2012-2022); Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) (2016-2021); the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund of UBC (2011-2014); and the Faculty of Applied Science, without whose generous support this program would not exist.


The Indigenous Community Planning Program is a concentration within the accredited MCRP degree program.