Architects selected to design Indigenous Centre of Cultural Excellence at Algoma University

Smoke Architecture and Moriyama & Teshima Architects have been selected to design Mukqua Waakaa’igan, an Anishinaabemowin name referring to the healer bear's den.

Smoke Architecture and Moriyama & Teshima Architects have been selected to design Mukqua Waakaa’igan: the new Indigenous centre of cultural excellence at Algoma University.

The name Mukqua Waakaa’igan was given through ceremony and in recognition of this very significant work. According to Algoma University, in Anishinaabemowin, Mukqua, the bear, is a carrier of medicine, and as such a healer; Waakaa’igan refers to its lodge or den.

Rendering courtesy of

“We’re really excited to be able to work closely with the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA), Indigenous and community partners and Algoma University to help bring their vision for Mukqua Waakaa’igan to life,” said Eladia Smoke, the Principal Architect at Smoke Architecture.

“Mukqua Waakaa’igan will showcase the decades of truth-telling work led by the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre,” said Algoma University President and Vice-Chancellor Asima Vezina. “As part of our commitments to the Calls to Action, Mukqua Waakaa’igan will provide a safe and culturally appropriate space to house and care for the archives from the residential schools’ history, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation Collection and other important historical documents.”   

When asked about any potential impacts to the ongoing site search work happening on the Algoma-owned portion of the property, according to Algoma University, Jay Jones, the Shingwauk Indian Residential School Site Search Coordinator, said that “our Alumni Association Elders are very happy to see this next step being taken for this important project, all the while respecting the important site search work currently underway.”

In carrying out this project with the utmost compassion toward victims of the aforementioned institution, as well as being conscious of the ongoing investigation currently happening there, our aspiration is to mark a step forward in the reconciliation process. The project signifier, the bear, represents healing,” says  Moriyama & Teshima Architects. 

It is anticipated that design consultations will begin in the coming weeks while work on the residential school site search continues.

Updates on the Shingwauk Indian Residential School site search can be found at