Mukwa Waakaa’igan Aboriginal Cultural Center Project Unveils Updated Design | New
Image courtesy of Moriyama & Teshima Architects
New renderings have been revealed for Algoma University’s future Mukwa Waakaa’igan Center of Indigenous Cultural Excellence in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, previewing a futuristic nod to the past while extending the conversation around an issue that has come to the fore recently as Pope Francis makes his long-awaited public apology tour across the Canada.
The project is led by Moriyama & Teshima with Smoke Architecture, an Ontario studio focused on First Nations and Indigenous communities. The team says it intends it to serve as a showcase of the “revelation” work its client, the Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA), has been pursuing to shed light on the injustices that have took place during the difficult era of residential schools in Canada.
According to the architects: “The architectural design was articulated with consideration of Indigenous teachings, from the form of the building to the selection of materials. The architectural expression of the new Cultural Center comes from the land, rising in three ways that represent the past, the present and the future, and rising above the boarding school. This elevated position provides visitors with a stronger, more commanding and dignified vantage point from which to view the history of the site.
“On the ground floor, the east entrance provides the spiritual access to the building, symbolizing the renewal and rebirth of the forest. The program in this area includes teaching spaces that connect to the outdoors, offering provide students with richer learning experiences rooted in nature. Along the west, transitional spaces are provided as a buffer between the former boarding school, leading to indoor gathering and ceremonial spaces.”
“This connection to nature at all levels engages visitor experiences with expansive lake and forest views, and provides places of learning and ceremony grounded in the land and inclusion of plants, our relationships with Indigenous peoples, in our daily experiences.”
Most importantly, the center will house the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, which has been in existence for 24 years. It will also contain the archives of the CSAA. Other parts of its layout would be derived from the advanced lessons in The path of sweet herbswhich directs people to the three paths of memory, present and future.
Algoma University President and Vice-Chancellor Asima Vezina says this will “provide a safe space” for dialogue on these three directions. Echoing the president’s wishes in an earlier statement, Moriyama & Teshima said, “Our aspiration is to mark a step forward in the reconciliation process.
Video courtesy of Moriyama & Teshima Architects