Construction will soon be underway on a stunning longhouse-inspired Indigenous cultural building at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Indigenous House, the new 10,700-square-foot building located on a sloping piece of land overlooking the Highland Creek ravine, will be dedicated to learning about Indigenous culture and ways of knowing.
“Indigenous House will be an iconic building that will bring together our Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and will be an inclusive space honouring Indigenous ways of knowledge locally and from across Turtle Island,” said Professor Wisdom Tettey, U of T vice-president and principal of U of T Scarborough.
The longhouse-inspired building will be two storeys in height, with office space for the campus Elder, a large and small circular gather space, and flexible research space. The circular gathering room will open to an observation deck overlooking a garden with plants with cultural significance to local Indigenous communities. There will also be a student lounge, library, teaching kitchen, and multi-purpose space.
The building has been designed with Indigenous practices in mind. Smoke detectors, for example, will be replaced with heat sensors to allow for smudging — a cultural practice involving the burning of sacred plants.
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“Historically, Indigenous people haven’t found places like this within an institution, a place where they feel like they belong,” says Kelly Crawford, assistant director of Indigenous initiatives at U of T Scarborough. “This building is about getting people to come together. It respects and celebrates an Indigenous worldview.”