Picture of Ryan Walker RPP, MCIP

Ryan Walker RPP, MCIP B.A. (Lethbridge), M.A. (Waterloo), Ph.D. (Queen's)

Professor (on administrative leave)

Faculty Member in Geography & Planning
Graduate Supervisor in Geography & Planning

Kirk Hall 112

Research Area(s)

  • city planning
  • urban geography
  • urban design
  • Indigenous urbanism
  • public space
  • age-friendly communities
  • downtown

About me


Saskatchewan Professional Planners Institute

Canadian Institute of Planners

Canadian Association of Geographers

The spatial experience of everyday life, for many, is created in the city, where elements of design, culture, nature, social justice, heritage, land, infrastructure, economy, spirituality, history, politics, and technology are assembled in ways influenced by relationships of power.  My teaching, research, and community engagement focus on the difficult, and never dull, task of understanding the city in as much of its captivating complexity as possible.

My research programs delve into the fascinating areas of city planning, urban geography, urban design, Indigenous urbanism, governance, age-friendly communities, and public space.

Committee Memberships

National Urban Park Advisory Committee (University of Saskatchewan)

Wascana Centre Master Plan Public Advisory Committee (Provincial Capital Commission)

Nutana Bus Rapid Transit Stakeholder Committee (City of Saskatoon)


Born in Winnipeg, I grew up there, in St. Albert and Edmonton, then moved to Lethbridge to attend university. I have been at home in New Brunswick (Pennfield Ridge), Quebec (Quebec City, Montreal), Ontario (Waterloo, Kingston), British Columbia (Wells) and internationally, in Tanzania (Dar es Salaam), Swaziland (Mbabane) and New Zealand (Palmerston North). My appointment at the University of Saskatchewan brought me back to the region where my mother’s side of the family was born and my great-grandparents settled and farmed in the R.M. of Perdue (Scharf/Lind) and near Bounty (Johnston/Moody).

My Scharf heritage goes back centuries in the Carlow and Kilkenny counties of Ireland. In the early 1800s some immigrated to Upper Canada and settled in the area around what would become Ottawa. My great-grandfather moved from Ontario to Saskatchewan in the early 1900s and met my great-grandmother (Lind). The Lind family, German Russians persecuted by the Bolsheviks, came to Saskatchewan leaving their home, farmland and possessions in Priwalnoje, Russia, refugees of the Russian Civil War.

The Johnston and Moody families moved to Saskatchewan from Grey County, Ontario in the early 1900s. In the 1830s and '40s they immigrated to Upper Canada from Northern Ireland (Fermanagh) and England (Yorkshire).

On my father’s side, great-grandparents Michaud and Lévesque were from Acadia and New France, families having settled there in the 1600s, emigrating from Pays de la Loire and Normandy, France. They lived mostly around the Kamouraska (QC) and Madawaska (NB) regions. After living several years in and around Quebec City, Jeanne Chevalier, a Fille du Roi, with her husband Robert began the family’s (New France) Lévesque line at Rivière-Ouelle, Kamouraska.

Great-grandparents Palk and Wainwright were British from Devon, England, going back centuries. They immigrated to Canada, settled and farmed at Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick in the early 1900s. Born Palk, I adopted the Walker name at age 15 when my mother remarried.

My settler biography has taken place on the land of sovereign Indigenous nations.


(italics indicates a current or former graduate student)

Fawcett, R B, Walker R, Belanger Y (2024) Liminal spaces and structural limitations of First Nation urban reserves, International Indigenous Policy Journal 15(1) 1-25

Walker, R, Nejad, S (2022, 2017) Urban planning, Indigenous peoples, and settler states, in A Bain, L Peake (eds), Urbanization in a Global Context, 2nd edition (Toronto, Oxford University Press)

Herman, L, Walker, R, Rosenberg, M (2021) Age-friendly communities and cultural pluralism: Examining Saskatoon's Chinese-Canadian social enclave, Canadian Journal on Aging 40(3) 463-474

Walker, R (2021) The rich and textured landscape of Peggy McKercher Conservation Area, Saskatoon History Review 31 8-16

Herman, L, Walker, R, Rosenberg, M (2021) An age-friendly city? LGBTQ and frail older adults, in M Hartt, S Biglieri, M Rosenberg, S Nelson (eds), Aging People, Aging Places: Experiences, Opportunities and Challenges of Growing Older in Canada (Bristol, Policy Press)

Nejad, S, Viswanathan, L, Walker, R (2021) Ethnocultural diversity, Indigeneity, and intercultural understanding in the context of planning for reconciliation: Perspectives from the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canadian Planning and Policy 91-108

Nejad, S, Walker, R, Newhouse, D (2020) Indigenous placemaking and the built environment: Toward transformative urban design, Journal of Urban Design 25(4) 433-442

Moos, M, Vinodrai, T, Walker, R (eds)(2020) Canadian Cities in Transition: Understanding Contemporary Urbanism, 6th edition (Toronto, Oxford University Press)

Walker, R, Blakley, J (2020, 2015) Public space in the city centre: Design, activity, and measurement, in M Moos, T Vinodrai, R Walker (eds), Canadian Cities in Transition: Understanding Contemporary Urbanism, 6th edition (Toronto, Oxford University Press)

Townshend, I, Walker, R (2020, 2015, 2010) Urban change through the lens of demography, life course, and lifestyles, in M Moos, T Vinodrai, R Walker (eds), Canadian Cities in Transition: Understanding Contemporary Urbanism, 6th edition (Toronto, Oxford University Press)

Fawcett, R B, Walker R (2020) Indigenous peoples, Indigenous cities, in M Moos, T Vinodrai, R Walker (eds), Canadian Cities in Transition: Understanding Contemporary Urbanism, 6th edition (Toronto, Oxford University Press)

Miller, G, Walker, R (2019) Editors' Note: Housing, Plan Canada 59(3) 6

Walker, R (2019) Reconstructing public history through European settler and Indigenous heritage and landscape, Association of European Schools of Planning Annual Congress Book of Papers, 272-289

Nejad, S, Walker, R, Macdougall, B, Belanger, Y, Newhouse, D (2019) "This is an Indigenous city; why don't we see it?" Indigenous urbanism and spatial production in Winnipeg, The Canadian Geographer 63(3) 413-424

Belanger, Y, Dekruyf, K, Walker, R (2019) Calgary, Canada: Policy co-production and Indigenous development in urban settings, in S Darchen, G Searle (eds), Global Planning Innovations for Urban Sustainability (New York, Routledge)

Walker, R, Fawcett, R B (2018) Public space design and Indigenous urbanism, Landscapes: Landscape Architecture in Canada 20(3) 32-34

Nejad, S, Walker, R (2018) Contemporary urban Indigenous placemaking in Canada, in E Grant, K Greenop, A Refiti, D Glenn (eds), The Handbook of Contemporary Indigenous Architecture (Singapore, Springer)

Bouvier, N, Walker, R (2018) Indigenous planning and municipal governance: Lessons from the transformative frontier, Canadian Public Administration 61(1) 130-134

Walker, R (2017) Supporting Indigenous planning in the city, Planning Theory & Practice 18(4) 653-656

Mohammed, M, Walker, R, Loring, P, Macdougall, B (2017) Perpetuation or remediation of structural violence toward Aboriginal peoples through city planning and policy processes - a choice to be made, in F Klodawsky, J Siltanen, C Andrew (eds), Toward Equity and Inclusion in Canadian Cities: Lessons from Critical Praxis-oriented Research (Montreal-Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press)

Walker, R, Berdahl, L, Lashta, E, Newhouse, D, Belanger, Y (2017) Public attitudes towards Indigeneity in Canadian prairie urbanism, The Canadian Geographer 61(2) 212-223

Lashta, E, Berdahl, L, Walker, R (2016) Interpersonal contact and attitudes towards Indigenous peoples in Canada's prairie cities, Ethnic and Racial Studies 39(7) 1242-1260

Prusak, S Y, Walker, R, Innes, R (2016) Toward Indigenous planning? First Nation community planning in Saskatchewan, Canada, Journal of Planning Education and Research 36(4) 440-450

Engler-Stringer, R, Muhajarine, N, Ridalls, T, Abonyi, S, Vatanparast, H, Whiting, S, Walker, R (2016) The Good Food Junction: A community-based food store intervention to address nutritional health inequities, JMIR Research Protocols 5(2) e52, DOI: 10.2196/resprot.5303

Walker, R (2016) Programming public space: The street as set, stage, studio, and gallery, Curb magazine 6(2) 18-19

Fawcett, R B, Walker, R, Greene J (2015) Indigenizing city planning processes in Saskatoon, Canada, Canadian Journal of Urban Research 24(2) 158-175

Filion, P, Moos, M, Vinodrai, T, Walker, R (eds)(2015) Canadian Cities in Transition: Perspectives for an Urban Age, 5th edition (Toronto, Oxford University Press)

Gyepi-Garbrah, J, Walker, R, Garcea, J (2014) Indigeneity, immigrant newcomers and interculturalism in Winnipeg, Canada, Urban Studies 51(9) 1795-1811

Walker, R (2013) Gov't must lead regional planning, Op-Ed in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Aug 16, A11 (see Photo Gallery for the article)

Walker, R (2013) Better transit will help build city, Op-Ed in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Aug 3, A8 (see Photo Gallery for the article)

Walker, R, Jojola, T, Natcher, D (eds)(2013) Reclaiming Indigenous Planning (Montreal-Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press)

Walker, R, Belanger, Y (2013) Aboriginality and planning in Canada's large Prairie cities, in R Walker, T Jojola, D Natcher (eds), Reclaiming Indigenous Planning (Montreal-Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press)

Walker, R, Matunga, H (2013) Re-situating Indigenous planning in the city, Plan Canada 53(2) 14-17

Walker, R (2013) Increasing the depth of our civic identity: Future seeking and place making with Aboriginal communities, in E Peters, C Andersen (eds), Indigenous in the City: Contemporary Identities and Cultural Innovation (Vancouver, UBC Press)

Belanger, Y, Walker R (2013) Winnipeg’s ‘Aboriginal pathways’: Assessing the impacts of interest convergence and co-production of plans, in I Skelton, O Ixtacuy Lopez (eds), Models of Indigenous Development (Champaign, USA, Common Ground Publishing)

Walker, R (2011) Equitable urbanism in Saskatchewan's large cities: Balancing environmental design, society, and our concept of place, in D McGrane (ed), New Directions in Saskatchewan Public Policy (Regina, Canadian Plains Research Centre Press)

Walker, R, Moore, J, Linklater, M (2011) More than stakeholders, voices and tables: Towards co-production of urban Aboriginal policy in Manitoba, in E Peters (ed), Urban Aboriginal Policy Making in Canadian Municipalities (Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press)

Walker, R (2011) Urban design responses: Cities in transition, in P Gordon (ed), Resiliency: Cool Ideas for Locally Elected Leaders (Vancouver, Columbia Institute Centre for Civic Governance)

Moore, J, Walker R, Skelton, I (2011) Challenging the new Canadian myth: Colonialism, post-colonialism and urban Aboriginal policy in Thompson and Brandon, Manitoba, Canadian Journal of Native Studies 31(1) 17-42

Bunting, T, Filion, P, Walker, R (eds)(2010) Canadian Cities in Transition: New Directions in the Twenty-first Century, 4th edition (Toronto, Oxford University Press)

Walker, R, Carter, T (2010) At home in the city: Housing and neighbourhood transformation, in T Bunting, P Filion, R Walker (eds), Canadian Cities in Transition: New Directions in the Twenty-first Century, 4th edition (Toronto, Oxford University Press)

Walker, R, Barcham, M (2010) Indigenous-inclusive citizenship, the city & social housing in Canada, New Zealand & Australia, Environment and Planning A 42(2) 314-331

Walker, R (2010) Traffic bridge must be saved, Op-Ed in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Oct 15, A6 (see Photo Gallery for the article)

Walker, R (2009) The political challenge of implementing social housing policy in Saskatchewan, in H Leeson (ed), Saskatchewan Politics: Crowding the Centre (Regina, Canadian Plains Research Centre Press)

Belanger, Y, Walker, R (2009) Interest convergence & co-production of plans: An examination of Winnipeg’s 'Aboriginal pathways', Canadian Journal of Urban Research 18(1) Supplement 118-139

Walker, R, Patrick, R (2009) Cityscape must reflect values of citizens, Op-Ed in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Feb 20, A11 (see Photo Gallery for the article)

Walker, R (2008) Indigeneity: A cornerstone of diversity planning in Canadian cities, Progressive Planning 177 8-13

Walker, R (2008) Improving the interface between urban municipalities and Aboriginal communities, Canadian Journal of Urban Research 17(1) Supplement 20-36

Walker, R (2008) Aboriginal self-determination and social housing in urban Canada: A story of convergence and divergence, Urban Studies 45(1) 185-205

Walker, R (2008) Ottawa should change its housing policies for urban aboriginals, Op-Ed in The Gazette (Montreal), Jul 2

Walker, R (2008) Social housing and the role of Aboriginal organisations in Canadian cities (Montreal, Institute for Research on Public Policy)

Walker, R (2008) Condo restrictions serve public interest, Op-Ed in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix, May 2, A10 (see Photo Gallery for the article)

Sully, L, Kellett, L, Garcea, J, Walker, R (2008) First Nations urban reserves in Saskatoon: Partnerships for positive development, Plan Canada 48(2) 39-42

Walker, R (2008) Unsettled places: Aboriginal people and urbanisation in New South Wales, Book Review, G Morgan (Wakefield 2006), Urban Studies 45(5&6) 1293-1295

Walker, R (2006) Searching for Aboriginal/Indigenous self-determination: Urban citizenship in the Winnipeg low-cost housing sector, Canada, Environment and Planning A 38(12) 2345-2363

Walker, R (2006) Interweaving Aboriginal/Indigenous rights with urban citizenship: A view from the Winnipeg low-cost housing sector, Canada, Citizenship Studies 10(4) 391-411

Walker, R (2006) We call it home: A history of state housing in New Zealand, Book Review, B Schrader (Reed 2005), New Zealand Geographer 62(1) 91-92

Walker, R (2005) Social cohesion? A critical review of the Urban Aboriginal Strategy and its application to address homelessness in Winnipeg, Canadian Journal of Native Studies 25(2) 395-416

Walker, R (2005) Reflections on planning with the urban Aboriginal community, Plan Canada 45(4) 38-41

Klein, J, Walker, R (2005) Statutory and non-statutory approaches to crime prevention through environmental design, Planning Quarterly 159 (December) 15-17

Peters, E, Walker, R (2005) ‘Chapter 1: Introducing a framework’ in E Peters, Indigeneity and marginalisation: Planning for and with urban Aboriginal communities in Canada, Progress in Planning 63(4) 327-404

Walker, R (2003) Engaging the urban Aboriginal population in low-cost housing initiatives: Lessons from Winnipeg, Canadian Journal of Urban Research 12(1) Supplement 99-118

Townshend, I, Walker, R (2002) The structure of income residential segregation in Canadian metropolitan areas, Canadian Journal of Regional Science 25(1) 25-52

Walker, R, Seasons, M (2002) Planning supported housing: A new orientation in housing for people with serious mental illness, Journal of Planning Education and Research 21(3) 313-319

Walker, R, Seasons, M (2002) Supported housing for people with serious mental illness: Resident perspectives on housing, Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health 21(1) 137-151

Walker, R (2001) Fundza libraries in Swazi schools: Programme evaluation and implications for performance and policy, Innovation: Appropriate Librarianship and Information Work in Southern Africa 23 31-40

Teaching & Supervision

  • PLAN 341.3 Urban Planning
  • PLAN 395.3 Planning History and Theory
  • PLAN 410.3 Planning Internship
  • PLAN 441.3 Challenges in Urban Development
  • PLAN 445.3 Planning with Indigenous Communities
  • PLAN 490.3 Applied Planning Project
  • GEOG 240.3 Sustainable Cities and Regions
  • GEOG 845.3 Advanced Urban Geography
  • INTS 111.3 Design and Society (co-taught)


Indigenous urbanism age-friendly communities city planning downtown public space urban design urban geography

The Creating Demand for a Downtown Lifestyle in Saskatoon project, with co-investigator Zoe Hagen and City of Saskatoon lead collaborator Brent McAdam RPP, MCIP, was inspiring work. The project was funded by the Research Junction, a joint initiative by USask and City of Saskatoon to connect university research with the City's strategic goals. Our project team included Ellen Wardell SAA (City of Saskatoon), Loleen Berdahl (USask), Janel Fergusson (USask), Haven Rees (City of Saskatoon), Ana Maria Bogdan (USask), Jessica McCutcheon (USask), and Brent Penner (Downtown Saskatoon Business Improvement District). Together we examined ways to enhance liveability and create a highly sought after urban lifestyle in Downtown Saskatoon, helping decipher the consumer-code for making Downtown a residential destination, informing planning, development, and investment.

It was a pleasure working with Markus Moos, Tara Vinodrai and a roster of some of Canada's top urban geography and planning scholars to produce the sixth edition of Canadian Cities in Transition: Understanding Contemporary Urbanism published by Oxford University Press in 2020. The book was awarded the 2021 Award of Merit (Planning Publications and Media) by the Canadian Institute of Planners.

I was principal investigator for several years on the SSHRC Insight Grant funded City Planning and Indigeneity on the Prairies project, joined by a great team made up of Yale Belanger (University of Lethbridge), Loleen Berdahl (USask), David Newhouse (Trent University), Brenda Macdougall (University of Ottawa), and several brilliant graduate students. During that time I also served as the Director of the Prairie Research Centre in the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network, funded by a SSHRC Partnership Grant under the academic leadership of David Newhouse and community leadership of the National Association of Friendship Centres, in partnership with several other community, university, and government agencies.

I enjoyed leading the Saskatoon-based work for the SSHRC Insight Grant funded project Age-Friendly Communities - Friendly for Whom? over the past several years. Led nationally by Mark Rosenberg (Queen's University), the team also included Kathi Wilson (University of Toronto), an excellent team of graduate and undergraduate students, and assistance from the Saskatoon Council on Aging, OUTSaskatoon, and Saskatoon Open Door Society.

Working with a grant from the Global Water Futures Programme, and supported by the Swale Research Partnership coordinated by the Office of the VP Research, I had the opportunity to supervise the production of an important report by Warrick Baijius on one of Saskatoon's threatened native grassland areas titled Comprehending Swale Ecosystems: Research Synthesis and Analysis. The full report and one-page briefing note are available through links at the end of the news story written by Shannon Boklaschuk ('Nature needs space': New USask report makes recommendations to protect Saskatoon's Swales).

During 2016 I enjoyed working with Humanities and Fine Arts colleagues in the College of Arts and Science, the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and community partners like AKA Artist-Run, PAVED Arts, TRIBE, and the City of Saskatoon's Public Art Advisory Committee on the Urban Change Working Group, funded by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity and community partners. The Working Group focused attention on the roles of citizens, artists, community-based organizations, local businesses, developers, scholars, and decision-makers in approaches to urban change that honour social, cultural, and economic diversity.

Working with Ted Jojola, David Natcher and a group of insightful scholars and practitioners of Indigenous planning in Canada, USA, New Zealand, and Australia to create Reclaiming Indigenous Planning, a book published by McGill-Queen's University Press in 2013, was a rewarding experience. The book was awarded the 2014 Award of Merit (Planning Publications) by the Canadian Institute of Planners and the 2014 Innovation in Planning (Education and Outreach) award by the New Mexico American Planning Association.

During 2010-11 I worked with Jill Blakley, a team of our planning students, and about 50 community volunteers on research for phase one of the City of Saskatoon’s new City Centre Plan. Our research into the interactions between public spaces, built environment, pedestrian activity and urban quality contributed to the production of the City’s Public Spaces, Activity and Urban Form Strategic Framework, accepted by City Council in November 2011. The project was a three-way partnership between the City of Saskatoon, USask, and Sweeny Sterling Finlayson &Co Architects Inc. It was awarded the 2012 Award for Planning Excellence (New and Emerging Planning Initiatives) by the Canadian Institute of Planners, the 2012 Downtown Merit Award (Planning) from the International Downtown Association, and the 2011 Premier's Award of Excellence in Design (Community Planning).

In addition to those noted above, other past grants include principal investigator on a SSHRC Standard Research Grant, co-investigator on a SSHRC Major Collaborative Research Initiative Grant (led by Robert Young, Western University), co-investigator on a CIHR Operating Grant (led by Nazeem Muhajarine and Rachel Engler-Stringer, College of Medicine), a principal investigator on the Canadian Pacific Partnership Program in Aboriginal Community Planning, and collaborator on a variety of SSHRC grants.

Education & Training

B.A. (with distinction) Urban and Regional Studies (University of Lethbridge)
M.A. Planning (University of Waterloo)
Ph.D. Geography (Queen’s University at Kingston)

Greystone Leadership: Advanced (University of Saskatchewan)

4 Seasons of Reconciliation (First Nations University of Canada)

Certificate in Alternative Dispute and Conflict Resolution (Mediation Centre of Southeastern Ontario)

Certificate in Learning and Teaching Development (Massey University, New Zealand)

Awards & Honours

  • Award of Merit, awarded by Canadian Institute of Planners July 2021
  • Partnership Program 5-year Recognition Award, awarded by Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan June 2019
  • Volunteer Recognition Award, awarded by Saskatchewan Professional Planners Institute September 2016
  • Award of Merit, awarded by Canadian Institute of Planners July 2014
  • Award for Planning Excellence, awarded by Canadian Institute of Planners October 2012
  • Downtown Merit Award, awarded by International Downtown Association USA September 2012
  • Award for Distinction in Outreach and Engagement, awarded by University of Saskatchewan June 2012
  • James Pooler Award, awarded by USask Regional and Urban Planning Program March 2012
  • Premier's Award of Excellence in Design, awarded by Design Council of Saskatchewan November 2011