Smoke Architecture and Moriyama & Teshima Architects have been selected as the successful architects to support the development of the new Indigenous centre of cultural excellence: Mukqua Waakaa’igan at Algoma University.
Smoke Architecture is a renowned full-service Indigenous-owned architecture firm that focuses on First Nations and Indigenous projects. Moriyama & Teshima Architects is an award-winning architecture and planning firm that specializes in inclusive and intercultural approaches to design that transform communities and reinforce civic identity.
“We’re really excited to be able to work closely with the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA), Indigenous and community partners and Algoma University to help bring their vision for Mukqua Waakaa’igan to life,” shared Eladia Smoke, the Principal Architect at Smoke Architecture.
The name Mukqua Waakaa’igan was given through ceremony and in recognition of this very significant work. In Anishinaabemowin, Mukqua, the bear, is a carrier of medicine, and as such a healer; Waakaa’igan refers to its lodge or den. Algoma University will ensure that the significance of this name will be reflected throughout the project’s functional design.
Mukqua Waakaa’igan was conceptualized to serve as a centre of cultural excellence for the country – a place where people of all cultures will be welcomed from around the world to share and learn from and with each other as part of the University’s commitment to creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for cross-cultural understanding, teaching, learning and research.
“Mukqua Waakaa’igan will showcase the decades of ‘truth telling’ work led by the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre,” shared Algoma University President and Vice-Chancellor Asima Vezina. “As part of our commitments to the Calls to Action, Mukqua Waakaa’igan will provide a safe and culturally appropriate space to house and care for the archives from the residential schools history, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation Collection and other important historical documents.”
When asked about any potential impacts to the ongoing site search work happening on the Algoma-owned portion of the property, Jay Jones, the Shingwauk Indian Residential School Site Search Coordinator, noted that, “our Alumni Association Elders are very happy to see this next step being taken for this important project, all the while respecting the important site search work currently underway.”
It is anticipated that design consultations will begin in the coming weeks while work on the residential school site search continues. The site search is a priority for Algoma University and the institution commits that construction will not commence until the site search work in the zoned area selected to house Mukqua Waakaa’igan is completed and approval from the CSAA and its Advisory Committee is given.
Updates on the Shingwauk Indian Residential School site search can be found at www.childrenofshingwauk.ca.