2023 RAIC Awards: Towards Home
Winner of a 2023 RAIC Architectural Journalism & Media Award
ᐊᖏᕐᕋᒧᑦ / Ruovttu Guvlui / Towards Home is an Indigenous-led exhibition and publication project that explores how Inuit, Sámi, and other communities across the Arctic are creating self-determined spaces. (angirramut) in Inuktitut or ruovttu guvlui in Sámi means “towards home.” To move towards home is to reflect on where Inuit and Sámi people find home, on what their connections to their lands mean, and on what those relationships could look like moving into the future.
The project encompasses experiences and understandings of past, present, and future homes across Inuit Nunangat and Sápmi. ᐊᖏᕐᕋᒧᑦ / Ruovttu Guvlui / Towards Home proceeds through a series of open and future-oriented questions to explore what it means for Indigenous peoples to design with the land: what could home become across Inuit Nunangat, Sápmi, and the North more generally when defined by Indigenous architects and designers? Where do homelands begin? Co-curators Joar Nango, Taqralik Partridge, Jocelyn Piirainen and Rafico Ruiz mobilize the CCA as a creative platform for newly commissioned works by asinnajaq, Carola Grahn and Ingemar Israelsson, Geronimo Inutiq, Joar Nango, Taqralik Partridge and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory. The exhibition also includes a new iteration of the Sámi Architectural Library by architect and artist Joar Nango, travelling to Montreal from the National Gallery of Canada; a radio broadcast program; and dialogues between sounds, images, and perspectives. The exhibition design was completed by Edmonton-based Tiffany Shaw, with graphic design by Montreal firm FEED.
Embedded within the project is the Futurecasting: Indigenous-led Architecture and Design workshop, which gathers nine emerging designers, from across the Canadian part of Turtle Island and Sápmi, to reflect on and to shape the future of Indigenous-led design. The workshop, organized in three parts, has played a central role in the conceptualization and definition of the overall Towards Home project. The first parts of the workshop, led by Indigenous architects and knowledge-keepers, were constituted by a series of virtual seminars in January and February 2022 that focused on the following four themes: Land, Indigenous Knowledge, North-South relations, and Home. The seminars were followed by a workshop that took place in April 2022 at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Kautokeino, Norway, in Sápmi, which centered land-based practices and Indigenous knowledge in the design process. The work in the CCA galleries as part of ᐊᖏᕐᕋᒧᑦ / Ruovttu Guvlui / Towards Home is the product of the conversations that took place through the Futurecasting program. The final installment of the workshop took place at the CCA in October 2022. During this week, the Futurecasting group considered questions around the role of the archive in relation to safekeeping Indigenous knowledge, and the impact of their research on future generations of Indigenous design students.
ᐊᖏᕐᕋᒧᑦ / Ruovttu Guvlui / Towards Home extends the lines of investigation around the environment, land, and territory, established in prior CCA projects including It’s All Happening So Fast: A Counter-History of the Modern Canadian Environment (2016-2017), Toward Unsettling (2020), and Middleground: Siting Dispossession (2020-2021). The project aims to expand the dialogue around the colonial implications of architectural thought and practice beyond a settler-colonial lens.
“It is an intentional effort to move beyond colonial borders in order to centre spacemaking and placemaking as practices that have the potential to create meaningful and long-lasting connections between Indigenous architects and designers across homelands in the North,” write the curators. “These relations also extend southward, to the many networks of Northern Indigenous people living in urban centres who maintain ties to the North. The work of the designers, artists, and architects within this show presents memories, experiences, and projections that hold the potential to define and shape what architecture in Northern communities can be. We acknowledge that the work of deepening architecture’s engagement with Indigenous designers and their communities needs to above all centre the knowledge and experiences of being at home on the land.”
Jury Comments : This research project collaboratively explores and celebrates many important considerations of Indigenous living through dynamic visuals and other forms of media, bringing a better awareness and understanding to both professionals and the public. It is a thoughtful and more complete narrative of the meaning of the Indigenous home and the future of design on Indigenous land.
As an exhibition, Towards Home presents a wonderful diversity of spaces, elements, and intentions, bringing visitors into life in the North. Using both architecture and artefact, the CCA has created a beautiful, experiential exhibit that tells an important and valuable story, especially in light of the ongoing path towards truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and our global efforts to live on—and preserve—an increasingly fragile planet.
The jury for this award included Brent Bellamy, Charles-Mathieu Brunelle, Michael Green, Jenn McArthur, Shallyn Murray, and Betsy Williamson.