Banner for UNDRIP in Cities Conference, Feb 28-29, 2024 Vancouver hosted by the National Urban Indigenous Coalition Council (NUICC)

Join NUICC delegates at NUICC's "UNDRIP in Cities" Conference!

NUICC is inviting you to join us for UNDRIP in Cities Conference, a two-day hybrid (in-person and virtual) conference of talks, workshops, and discussions on how UNDRIP impacts urban Indigenous rights and self-governance.

This year, our host city is Vancouver, unceded lands of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Vancouver is the leading city in Canada advancing UNDRIP and British Columbia is the first province to adopt UNDRIP legislation. The urban Indigenous community represented by the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council (MVAEC) is more than 65,000 strong, and innovative policy work is taking place to advance our urban rights.

The Conference is part of our annual, all coalitions gathering with urban Indigenous coalitions, leaders in the fight for urban Indigenous rights and self-determination.


Once a year, the National Urban Indigenous Coalition Council hosts a face to face, gathering with coalition representatives, urban Indigenous groups, ISC staff, and guest speakers to chart the future of NUICC and the urban Indigenous sector.

This year’s gathering will be hosted in Vancouver. The Gathering kicks off on February 28th with coalition-only business meetings and a keynote address on the future of urban Indigenous rights. In the afternoon we will open the doors to the urban community for the UNDRIP in Cities Conference, which runs until the evening of February 29th.

On March 1st, we continue with Coalition business, as we plan an exciting year ahead based on delegates’ input and a collective strategy uniting coalitions from coast to coast to coast.

Photo of mural from the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre.

Conference Ticket Registration

NOTE: Coalition representatives and their staff teams who are attending the Conference virtually do not require a ticket and will be emailed the Zoom information before the event starts. Coalition representatives and alternates’ registration to attend in-person will be coordinated directly with the production team, at

How to access virtual sessions

All registrants will receive the Zoom information via email from Please DO NOT SHARE the zoom link to ensure uninterrupted, secure and smooth sessions.


More speakers will be announced soon.

Note: You will receive a delegate’s information package with the conference schedule at the event if attending in person, by email if attending virtually.

28 February 2023

Day 1

Location 1: Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, 1607 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V5L 3P7

12:30 - 1:15 PM - regional networking LUNCH
01:15 - 01:30 PM

Session #1 : Conference Welcome

Coast Salish protocol. Welcoming remarks: Co-Chairs Damon Johnston and Becky Sasakamoose Kuffner, Susan Tatoosh (ED, Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre).

01:40 - 02:30 PM

Session #2: Urban Indigenous Unity for Growing Urban Indiegnous Space in Our Cities

Joan Phillip, BC Government MLA

02:00 - 02:45 PM

Session #3: Progress on Urban Indigenous Policy

with Ginger Gosnell-Myers

03:00 - 03:15 PM - Health Break
03:15 - 03:45pm

Session #4: Framing the conversation: UNDRIP as a Framework for change for urban Indigenous people

– Department of Justice, Gabrielle Héroux presenting (20 min)

03:45 - 04:30pm

Session #5 - Urban Indigenous Research and Rights

Speakers: Jonathon Potskin, UAKN (Yale), NUICC Knowledge Hub

04:30 - 5:00pm

Session #6 - Advocating for a new National Urban Strategy

Collaboration amongst National Urban Indigenous Organisations
Wrap up remarks
Speaking: Co-chairs

05:00 PM - CLOSING
06:00- 10:00 PM

Session #7 - Banquet Night - The Future is Urban: Keynote Reflections on Being Indigenous in Canada

Keynote speakers: Dr. Sylvia Maracle and Russ Diabo 

Location 2: Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue, room 320, 580 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, B.C. (enter via Seymour Street courtyard entrance). Opening: Coast Salish protocol and cultural programming.

6:00 Cultural Presentation;
6:15 Dinner is served;
6:45pm Speaker;
7:15 Cultural Presentation;
7:25 Speaker;
7:55 Dialogue;
9pm Program Ends

We welcome MetroVancouver Aboriginal Executive Council (MVAEC) (host organisation) community members, general public, government agencies and urban Indigenous coalition delegates.

29 February 2023

Day 2

Location: World Art Centre, SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1H4

08:00 - 08:30 AM - breakfast
08:30 - 08:45 AM

Opening Protocol

08:45 - 9:00 AM

Session #8: UNDRIP in an Urban Context

Opening remarks by Damon Johnston (NUICC Co-Chair)

09:00 - 09:30 am

Session #9 - Activating Our Rights to Self-Determination

Speakers: Scott Clark (President of NWIC), Becky Sasakamoose Kuffner (NUICC Co-Chair)

09:30 - 10:15am

Session #10 - Implementing UNDRIP in Vancouver

View from Vancouver with Michelle Bryant-Gravelle (City of Vancouver)
10:15 - 10:30am Coffee break (provided)
10:30 - 11:00 AM

Session #10 (continued) - Implementing UNDRIP in Vancouver

View from Victoria with Janice Franklin (Government of BC)
11:00am - 12:00 pm ​

Session #11 - Urban Rights: From Misquadis to UNDRIP

Opening Remarks: Nancy Martin (Toronto), Presentation by Yale Belanger (Univ of Lethbridge)

12:00 - 01:00 pm - Networking Lunch (provided)
01:00 - 01:30 PM

Session #12 - ISC, UNDRIP and Funding Devolution: What is happening at UPIP, ISC Service Transfer Working Group, and the future.

Speakers: Damon Johnston 

01:30 - 02:30 pm

Session #13-A - Urban Indigenous Governance and Accountability

Speakers: Justin Campbell (St. John’s) Respondent Norm Leech (MVAEC) Moderated by Krista Mooney
2:30 - 2:45pm Health Break
02:45 - 03:30pm

Session #13-B Forms of Urban Indigenous Governance and Relationships

3:30-3:40pm | Kamala Todd **online** 3:40-3:50 | Maurice Switzer, Urban Governance & Community Action Plans: Two Row Wampum, host nations, municipalities, and advocating for ourselves
03:30 - 04:00 pm

Session #13-C Forms of Urban Indigenous Governance and Relationships

3:50-4:00pm | Leilani Shaw (Relationship Building), (Executive Director at Montreal Indigenous Community Network) 4:00-4:10pm | Lyn Daniels, co-chair of the Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee (SUILC)
04:00 - 04:45pm

Session #14 - The role of coalitions in Urban Governance (Small Groups and Plenary)

Research questions on urban coalitions and urban governance Speakers: Co-chairs
04:45 - 05:00 pm

Community Listeners and Closing Remarks

Damon Johnston
05:00 pm - Closing

Attention – The evening panel  (session #15) has been incorporated to the day-program. The conference ends at 5pm on Feb 29th.

Meeting LocationS

Day 1

8:30am – 5pm | Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, 1607 E Hastings St, Vancouver, B.C.

6 – 9pm | Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, B.C. (enter via Seymour Street courtyard entrance)

Meeting LocationS

Day 2

8am – 5pm | World Art Centre, SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W Hastings St, Vancouver, B.C.

meet the SPEAKERS

UNDRIP in Cities Conference

Dr. Sylvia Maracle - SKONAGANLEH:RA
February 28th Night Keynote Dr. Sylvia Maracle (Skonaganleh:ra) is a Wolf Clan member from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory who has resided in Toronto for 50 years. She is a passionate advocate for urban aboriginal peoples and women's issues. She is at the forefront of change, fundamentally altering the landscape for urban aboriginal programs and policies. She works with the National Association of Friendship Centres, the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, National Aboriginal Head Start and a long list of regional, international and local renowned organizations.
Kamala Todd
Kamala is a Métis-Cree community planner, filmmaker, curator and the proud mother of two amazing kids. She is Adjunct Professor in Planning at UBC and SFU, and runs Indigenous City Media. She was the City of Vancouver's first Aboriginal Social Planner and first Indigenous Arts and Culture Planner. She has worked for many years with the City of Vancouver and Park Board and other municipalities as a community planner and cultural advisor, including her current role as Indigenous Relations consultant with the Vancouver UNDRIP Strategy.
Dr. Yale Belanger
Dr. Yale D. Belanger (Ph.D.) is professor of Political Science at the University of Lethbridge (Alberta), and a Member, Royal Society of Cana da, College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists (2017-2024). A core member of the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network, his PhD work at Trent University focused on the emergence and evolution of Indigenous political organizations in Canada. Also NUICC's collaborator, Belanger will share with us his research on Misquadis. Yale was a guest speaker at our Ottawa National Coalitions Gathering in March 2023 (watch the recording for this session by clicking here). Check out Yale's chapter in Indigenous in the City, Contemporary Identities and Cultural Innovation, "Chapter 3: Breaching Reserve Boundaries".
Russell Diabo
Joseph Russell Diabo is a member of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake. He is a First Nations political and legal issues expert and educator with more than 45 years of community organizing experience. He worked at AFN in the Bilateral Directorate as a Special Projects Coordinator in the mid-1980’s. He became Executive Liaison between the Interior Alliance of Indigenous Nations and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, led by Grand Chief Stuart Phillip, until 2001, and helped organize the founding of the Defenders of the Land Network in Winnipeg in 2008. Since 2002, Russ started an online newsletter on First Nations political and legal issues, which is called the “First Nations Strategic Bulletin”, archived at Library and Archives Canada.
Maurice Switzer
Maurice Switzer, Bnesi, is a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation in southern Ontario. At various times he has been an Ontario Human Rights commissioner, publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, adjunct professor of communications and Indigenous Studies on the Laurentian University campus, and communications director for the Assembly of First Nations and Union of Ontario Indians. Maurice currently serves as president of the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre, and chair of Nipissing University's Indigenous Council on Education.
Scott Clark
Clark is the president of the Northwest Indigenous Council (NWIC). The Northwest Indigenous Council is an organization where you can work alongside other urban and rural Indigenous peoples to ensure you have a legitimized voice and a place at the table to ensure your rights and aspirations are brought to important discussion in your neighbourhoods, cities, villages and the evolving Nation to Nation discourse.
Ginger Gosnell-Myers
Ginger Gosnell-Myers is Nisga'a and Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw, whose 20+ year career challenging colonial systems is creating new pathways for radical change. She is the first Indigenous Fellow with the Simon Fraser University Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, where she focuses on Decolonization and Urban Indigenous Planning. She played an integral role in making Vancouver the world's first official City of Reconciliation, which was an outgrowth of her work on the landmark Environics Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study, the first comprehensive research of its kind in Canada. Her work today creates new planning and design processes for development projects so that Indigenous knowledge is meaningfully reflected throughout, ensuring co-learning for all parties in centered, going beyond the normal token or decorative only approaches. Ginger’s goal is to re-define government policies and industry processes, creating new standards that meet commitments to UNDRIP and the TRC. Ginger published a chapter in Sacred Civics (2022) titled “Co-creating the Cities We Deserve through Indigenous Knowledge” and has delivered a TedX Talk - ‘Canadian Shame: A History of Residential Schools’. Ginger is currently the Chairperson of Greenpeace Canada’s Board of Directors.
Michelle Keller
Keller is an A/Senior Analyst on the Consultation and Cooperation Team of the UN Declaration Act Implementation Secretariat, at the Department of Justice. She has an extensive research background, having completed her PhD at the University of Manitoba. She previously co-managed socio-economic funding agreements with Indigenous peoples in Manitoba.
Gabrielle Héroux
Héroux is a Senior Analyst on the Consultation and Cooperation Team of the UN Declaration Act Implementation Secretariat, at the Department of Justice. She has past experience working in Indigenous human rights and public safety.
Michelle Bryant-Gravelle
Michelle is an experienced leadership coach, corporate professional, and educator with a demonstrated history of successfully bridging gaps between industry and Indigenous communities. She joined the City of Vancouver in September 2022 as the Senior Director, Indigenous Relations from her role as Corporate Affairs Manager at Trigon Pacific Terminal (formally Ridley Terminals Inc.), in Prince Rupert, BC, where she worked since 2011. She previously worked as a teacher and vice principal for 10 years. Michelle has been on many Boards, including serving as the first Indigenous woman President of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce. Michelle currently is the Vice President of the Women's Leadership Network and an elected Trustee for the Lax Kw'alaams Settlement Trust, a Director for Skilled Trades BC, and was previously a Director for the Indigenous Business Investment Council, and on the Committee for the Medal of Good Citizenship for the province. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degree from Vancouver Island University and a Master of Education in Multidisciplinary Leadership from the University of Northern British Columbia. Michelle is passionate about coaching and received a Diploma in Solution Focused Coaching, and a Certificate in Advanced Management. Michelle is from the Ts'msyen Nation, from the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw'alaams. She is from the Gitwilgyoots (People of the Kelp) Tribe and Gispudwada (Killer Whale) Clan. Her traditional name is Bilha'am Nelx, which means "Pearl (inside of the abalone shell) on the fin of the killer whale".

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