May 1, 2019

Indigenous Engagement Approach to Open Smart Cities

Five hands fist bumping over a table with laptops and plugs


Indigenous stories and knowledges across diverse nations speak of connection, sustainability, and reciprocity and these values are seen in the flourishing technology sector. Many Indigenous leaders, organizations and technology providers and educators are becoming increasingly interested in a path towards the resurgence of peoples’ sovereignty, and ability to transform their communities in healthy and meaningful ways through innovation.

Partnership & Equal Access to Bridge Systemic Gaps

There is immense potential for partnership and equal access to open smart solutions that can facilitate technological reconciliation by bridging systemic gaps in data and digital infrastructure within First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

In particular, open smart cities technologies, data and innovations are being leveraged by Indigenous leadership to effectively transform communities around development priorities, such as:

– mental wellness and suicide prevention
– holistic land-based STE(A)M and language education for youth,
– smart LED farming, and
– zero-net sustainable housing innovations.

Creating Unique, Open Smart Solutions

In light of these and other smart cities initiatives and aspirations championed by Indigenous communities across Canada, there is a unique opportunity for the Community Solutions Network (the Network) to enable Indigenous communities to frame open smart technologies from their respective First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives and innovation contexts.

In this way, there is not only one smart cities model that all communities must adapt to, but customized models that are particular to a northern First Nations, a west coast First Nations, or an Inuit vision of open smart solutions.

The Network aims to contribute to a culture of change, continuous improvement and innovation in communities across Canada, and a platform for pan-Canadian dialogue about the opportunities presented by smart cities approaches. For these goals to be achievable and effective, the Network recognizes that the engagement of Indigenous communities and innovators across Canada is critically important and must be approached respectfully, equitably, inter-culturally and collaboratively.

In particular, the approach attempts to incorporate First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives and priorities within the program’s outreach, program development and content, advisory, matchmaking and networking activities.

The Network is Committed To

The Network is committed to working collaboratively with Indigenous communities, advisors and innovators to co-create the types of programming, content and activities that are relevant to advancing the priorities of Indigenous communities and urban Indigenous citizenry, their invaluable expertise and experiences must be recognized and operationalized within all levels of the program. Significant to this approach is an awareness about the legacies of colonialism and how they have affected nation-to-nation relationships and data custodianship and governance for Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The Network is equally committed to engender a relationship of trust, honesty and dedication to building reconciliation and decolonizing technology. The work of the Network will be guided by Indigenous communities and advisors around the application of open smart technology solutions in alignment with each community’s respective Indigenous data sovereignty and governance policies and requirements.

Data Governance Policy

The Network’s data governance policy is committed to protecting the rights of participating First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to govern all data and information that relate to their communities; and will work with them to ensure the open smart principles are aligned with and protective of Indigenous data governance principles such as ownership, control, accessibility, possession, quality, security, privacy, and knowledge.

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