Lambton College has unveiled its vision for a brand new Indigenous outdoor space on campus.
The goal is to provide First Nations students with a safe spot to feel empowered and to connect with their culture.
The idea was first proposed by the college's Indigenous Education Council as part of the 2014-2016 Indigenous Academic & Student Success Plan.
Manager of Indigenous Education Jane Manning said it's all about giving back.
"Education was a tool used by the Canadian government to enforce assimilation practices," said Manning. "Of course, it might sound like a long time ago but it really wasn't. Some might even argue that it's still happening today. Not the enforcement part, but the expectation to assimilate into the institutional norm. So, when we think about giving back, it's about giving back that space that allows Indigenous learners to see themselves and celebrate who they are and to connect to their own culture and identity."
ATRR Architect and Red Quill were selected to oversee the design of the space, led by architect Wanda Dalla Costa, the first First Nation female architect in Canada.
During the consultation phase, participants showed a strong tendency towards natural materials, organic shapes, openness, natural light, plants, natural elements (central firepit), circular elements.
Design elements paying homage to Indigenous culture, history and traditions are noted throughout the space including the medicine wheel, local territory Nations, the clan system, Indigenous teachings, language and acknowledgement of local First Nations.
Suncor Energy has contributed $600,000 toward the creation of the space.
Construction will begin this year on the south part of the campus, and should wrap up sometime in fall of 2023.