Where They Meet: Indigenous Activism and City Planning in Winnipeg, MB (Jason Syvixay’s Master’s Thesis)

Hi there!

My name is Jason Syvixay, a Master of City Planning (MCP) graduate student in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture. Recently, I attended Meet Me At The bell Tower and had the distinct pleasure to meet many of the participants involved with this initiative and to introduce my thesis work.

Before proceeding with my research inquiry, I met and discussed with organizers of AYO and Meet Me At The Bell Tower to understand how my research may be supportive and generative for future organizing and mobilizing work.

As part of my research design, secondary source analysis, ethnography/observation, and semi-structured interviews will be employed. With the assistance of Meet Me At The Bell Tower organizers, I will participate in many of the upcoming weekly gatherings to take notes and to meet with prospective interviewees. If you have participated in Meet Me At The Bell Tower in the past and would like to serve as a key informant in my research, I would love to hear from you. For your privacy and confidentiality, before interviews may be scheduled, forms of consent will need to be reviewed and signed. Please get in touch either by contacting Meet Me At The Bell Tower organizers or me by email at syvixay3@myumanitoba.ca. Thank you! I am looking forward to hearing from you!

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Below is brief project information:

Project Title: Where They Meet: Indigenous Activism and City Planning in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Researcher: Jason Syvixay, Department of City Planning, Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba
Research Advisor: Dr. Rae Bridgman, University of Manitoba
Thesis Committee (Internal/External): Dr. Jino Distasio, University of Winnipeg; Jeff Palmer, Catapult Community Planning

Background: In Winnipeg, Indigenous activists are finding and/or creating new opportunities to meet in public space to discuss civic issues like safety, inclusion, and the right to land. Through physical resistance (i.e. Indigenous activists occupying public space through blockades, protest, and public demonstrations), Indigenous activists have begun to make known their varying political, economic, and social struggles ─ and in many cases, are rallying both public and media support.

This practicum will explore Indigenous activism, leading to lessons for planners and others. Instead of maintaining a critical distance from these demonstrations, which can often create feelings of alienation within the Indigenous community, I assert that planners and others can view these public actions as offering opportunities for feedback, dialogue, and change. Through a case study of Meet Me At The Bell Tower, I hope to demonstrate how Indigenous activism in public spaces may represent an important bottom-up, community-based approach to public engagement.

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