July 15, 2013
by Canadian Architect
Through a continual commitment to support Aboriginal communities and groups across the country, Brook McIlroy has received the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) Committed designation – the first architecture, urban design, planning or landscape architectural practice in Canada.
With a focus on investment in community engagement, outreach and consultation, Brook McIlroy continually seeks to increase its commitment to supporting and working together with Aboriginal communities across Canada through projects and programs. The PAR Committed Certification forms the foundation of the firm’s past, present and future working relationships with Aboriginal communities in the collaborative development and implementation of city-building projects.
Many, if not all, of the firm’s projects entail a high degree of engagement with the surrounding communities in which they are situated, many of which involve working and engaging with, as well as learning from, Aboriginal stakeholders. Such engagement has proven to enrich both design and planning processes in creating exceptional communities and places. Brook McIlroy’s approach towards collaborative project development and design amongst diverse communities offers unprecedented engagement techniques. The firm’s practices have contributed towards a variety of successful projects including the Spirit Garden at Prince Arthur’s Landing in Thunder Bay and the Iroquoian Longhouse at Conservation Halton, amongst others.
The Spirit Garden – a unique landscape feature and “headland” on Thunder Bay’s revitalized waterfront – demonstrates the application of a collaborative effort between the Brook McIlroy design team and local Aboriginal communities, in addition to wetland ecologists and the Department of Fisheries. Officially opened to the public December 2011, this project received the 2012 Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) Award for Planning Excellence in the Aboriginal Community Planning and Development category.
The Spirit Garden is a civic landmark that reinforces Thunder Bay’s historic connection to the Lake Superior Shoreline and Aboriginal culture through [its] iconic natural and built spaces in the centre of the community.
– Excerpt from the 2012 CIP Awards Jury Statement
The Spirit Garden is being actively used as a gathering space for storytelling, ceremonies, concerts and contemplation. Recently, the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University have used the Gathering Circle within the Spirit Garden as an outdoor classroom to teach students Canadian history in a manner that truly represents the important role of Aboriginal societies in the making of the nation. It has also served as a peaceful platform for Thunder Bay’s Idle No More movement.
Upon celebrating National Aboriginal History Month in June, Brook McIlroy is honoured to have been recognized by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. We will continue to collaborate with Aboriginal design experts and communities in city-building initiatives, with a particular focus on expanding the firm’s Thunder Bay practice.
prince arthur's landing