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Indigenous Land Use Planning: Background Info Check List


Image: A bouquet of background maps - great place to gather information for your planning process!

Gathering existing background information into one place is a great way to start any planning process. For example, if your Indigenous nation is beginning the land use planning process, information such as maps, by-laws, land laws, policies, infrastructure inventories and demographic data helps paint a picture of your community’s history, prevents the need for additional information gathering later on, and helps make sure your land use plan is consistent with other existing plans. Existing economic development or housing plans, for example, will both feed into and harmonize with the land use planning process. Check out our handy "cheat sheet" on some different types of plans here:

Download Planning Cheat Sheet


Types of helpful planning information and where to look for it

We’ve listed several sources of information below that your community may already have. This is certainly not a list of information that you must have. However, if you do, and you gather it into one place at the outset, it will save you time and resources down the road. Don’t be daunted: you can still begin the land use planning process even if you don’t have any of these plans, maps, or research on hand.


Gather general information about the community

Gather general information about your community and its members.  For instance, the documents listed below could have information about your community’s identity, how decisions are made, current planning and decision-making frameworks or processes, who lives there, and where. Not everyone will have completed all of these – even a few of these docements will likely contain information gems worth gathering.


Governance, Demographics and Communication:

  • Constitution
  • Land Code
  • Comprehensive community plan
  • Strategic plan
  • Community vision
  • By-laws and Land Laws
  • Band Council Resolutions (BCRs) on policy direction
  • Community population (existing population on and off reserve; historic population data; records of births and deaths annually by gender)
  • Community engagement, internal and external (newsletters, distribution network)
  • Consultation and Accommodation protocol

Community infrastructure:

  • Houses, roads and trails
  • Lot lines and/or surveyed boundaries
  • Certificates of Possession
Gather information on what you want to protect

Consider what areas on your lands are important to protect for the next seven generations, and what information already exists that will guide you.


Where to look for existing information:

  • Traditional Knowledge studies (important cultural sites, for example)
  • Land use and occupancy studies
  • Records of history, community background, accounts of community history – these may be in book, video, journal or other format
  • Archaeological studies
  • Oral history interviews with elders and knowledge holders

Physical and living environment:

  • Aerial photography
  • Topography maps
  • Geological mapping, surficial geology, landscape terrain analysis
  • Watershed, floodplain, and wetlands mapping
  • Ecological mapping
  • Records of Species at Risk
  • Records of important plant and wildlife species
Gather information on where and how you want to grow

Gather information that could help you better understand where the community wants to direct new development, and the type of development that would be appropriate.

  • Capital Planning Study, development capability mapping
  • Economic development plans
  • Housing plans, housing policies, housing strategy
  • Proposed development plans (road widening and extensions, subdivision etc.)

Community infrastructure maps:

  • Water lines, sewage lines, transmission lines, water supply wells, internet
  • Water treatment, waste water treatment plants
  • Contaminated sites

These community resources could be found in multiple forms such as reports, maps, digital mapping files, archival material and videos.


Don't forget to ask elders and others who hold information that will be a valuable contribution to the planning process. Happy hunting!


Indigenous Planning Blog Series

This is the second post in a series that explores ways Indigenous communities have used the planning process to create an exciting vision for their future and a realistic roadmap to get there – and some resources and ideas for you to do the same. We hope you join us for the rest of the ride.  And please get in touch if there’s a topic you’d like us to explore.


Read more posts in this series:

Five Crucial Elements Every Land Use Plan Needs

Three Questions to a Clear Vision

Background Info Check List

Indigenous Planning Cheat Sheet: Five Types, Tips and Resources


Looking for planning help?

If you are trying to figure out how to get started, do give us a shout. We’d be happy to discuss your options and help you weigh the pros and cons. We’re a team of self-proclaimed planning geeks who love to talk about this stuff, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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About Us: Shared Value Solutions

We are a Canadian B Corp, and we assist Indigenous communities with support throughout regulatory processes surrounding major development projects like mines, hydroelectric facilities, transmission lines, highway expansions, oil and gas pipelines, natural resource transport applications and nuclear power. 


We have deep context and experience behind the recommendations we provide, having worked for our clients on almost every major project in Canada over the last 10 years. For us, it’s all about building long-term relationships with our clients. We want to get to know you and what you want to do so we can help you move your plans forward. 



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