University of Waterloo breaks ground on new Indigenous outdoor space

A new outdoor space with Indigenous significance will be available for students, staff and faculty at the University of Waterloo this fall.

The university announced earlier this month they broke ground on a new Indigenous outdoor space that will be used for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit events and celebrations.

The space will also be used as a classroom for some courses related to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit content.

“This space is meant to make a statement,” Jean Becker, associate vice-president, of Indigenous Relations at Waterloo, said in a press release.

“It’s meant to be a physical presence to say to our campus colleagues that there is Indigenous presence on campus, including histories tied to the area as well as contemporary Indigenous diversity and uses of the land. We’re proud of that.”

The circular structure will stand at six metres in height and 15 metres in diameter. It will be made of Alaskan yellow cedar with 33 posts to represent a forest. The roof design will include four overlapping wing sections, designed to allow wind to move freely through the structure.

Its colour design of yellow, red and brown is meant to represent a trout, which is native to the Grand River. The design was chosen by Indigenous campus community members in a poll.

The university is working with the Indigenous Design Studio at Brook McIlroy, a Toronto-based studio, on the design of the structure.

Construction on the space began this winter and will continue through the spring to be completed by the fall. A name for the new space will be chosen by the Office of Indigenous Relations after consulting with members of the Indigenous community following its completion.

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