RAIC indigenous

RAIC releases Indigenous Architecture report

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has announced that the Highlights Report of the first RAIC International Indigenous Architecture and Design Symposium is now available for download.

The richly illustrated 56-page report summarizes the presentations of more than 20 Indigenous architects, designers, and other professionals as well as students and interns from across Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Jason Surkan and RAIC staff produced the Highlights Report.

The symposium took place on May 27, 2017, at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa, ON in conjunction with the RAIC annual Festival of Architecture. It was the first project undertaken by the RAIC Indigenous Task Force, whose purpose is to foster and promote Indigenous design and architecture in Canada in rural, Métis and Northern communities, First Nations and urban spaces and to advocate with and on behalf Indigenous communities. The symposium’s theme was Reconciliation, Place-Making, and Identity.

“Too often First Nation, Métis, and Inuit capital projects are designed with minimal community involvement, and ultimately fail to meet community objectives for this reason,” said Dr. Patrick Luugigyoo Stewart, MRAIC, chair of the RAIC Indigenous Task Force.

“We need Indigenous architects, designers, and designs that will create long-term relevance, exemplify a respectful cultural and economic and environmental responsibility to sustainable development, and consider the reciprocal well-being and quality of life of the people. The time has come that First Nations/Metis/Inuit/federal/provincial/ municipal government capital projects not be done for us or without us.”

Presenters spoke about a variety of design and other issues facing Indigenous communities across Canada and internationally. Overarching themes emerged, such as the inclusion of local Indigenous communities in the design process, incorporation of traditional design elements, the preservation of culture, and remembrance of history.

Among the presenters were Vancouver architect Alfred Waugh, MRAIC, a member of the Fond Du Lac (Denesuline) Nation of northern Saskatchewan, who spoke about cultural sensitivity and environmental responsibility.

Wanda Dalla Costa, an architect, scholar and member of the Saddle Lake First Nation in Alberta, focused on how Indigenous design can serve as a means of storytelling and cultural preservation.

The feeling of optimism, energy, and momentum at the symposium inspired members of the RAIC’s Indigenous Task Force, led by Douglas Cardinal, FRAIC, to submit a successful proposal to the Canada Council for the Arts to represent Canada at the 2018 Venice Biennale in Architecture. Their project, titled UNCEDED: Voices of the Land, was on public display from May 26 – November 25, 2018, at the international exhibition.

A full copy of the International Indigenous Architecture and Design Symposium report is available via the RAIC, linked here.

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