New Indigenous space to be built on campus Space planned to open in fall 2024


Members of the UW community will have a new space to appreciate Indigenous knowledge and practises this coming fall term. The outdoor gathering space will act as a classroom setting for Indigenous content, as well as a gathering space for Indigenous-organized events and celebrations. It will also be open for campus community members to gather in when not in use. 

According to Jean Becker, associate vice president of Indigenous relations at the Office of Indigenous Relations (OIR), the idea for the space was conceived out of a desire to “add a tangible and visible connection” to the traditional territory the university sits on, the Haldimand Tract. 

The structure will be located on the BMH Green, near the Student Life Centre.

The design of the structure was led by principal Ryan Gorrie, who is Anishinaabeg and a member of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek, or Sand Point First Nation on Lake Nipigon, from the Indigenous Design Studio at BrookMcIlroy. Elements of the design stem from nature, including a roof design patterned after a species of trout native to the Grand River, and a roof structure that will “allows for interaction with natural elements” like wind flowing through. Trees and plants with significance to First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures will be featured a few months after completion of the structure.

Becker said that the design process was “highly collaborative and consultative,” including discussions with members of the Indigenous community, students and representatives from the Waterloo Student Indigenous Centre. 

The OIR will be seeking a Haudeonosaunee speaker with the ability to do naming, normally done through a ceremony, to determine a name for the space.