Canadian Architect


RAIC Journal: Canada’s First Nations Designers / Harriet Burdett-Moulton

May 11, 2017
by Jennifer Lewington

Harriet Burdett-Moulton. Photo: Chris Griffiths/Bang-On Photography

Harriet Burdett-Moulton. Photo: Chris Griffiths/Bang-On Photography

A former teacher, Harriet Burdett-Moulton, 68, of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was inducted last year as a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. In a career spanning 40 years, the senior architect with Stantec Architecture was the first to practice her discipline in Nunavut, with more than 150 buildings in her portfolio.

How has your Métis ancestry shaped your personal and professional goals?

Growing up in [Cartwright] Labrador, I had a sense that we were considered second-class citizens and that people who were very capable and intelligent had very little input into their governance. I feel strongly that people who use a facility or a building should have a say in how it is designed for them.

You emphasize the importance of honouring “aboriginal form” in Indigenous projects. What’s a good example?

Aboriginal form that reflects heritage or expresses culture will mean different things to different cultural groups. A reflection of Inuit heritage or culture, for example, is the use of an undulating roof on Piqqusilirivvik (the Inuit Culture Learning Facility in Clyde River) that lets the wind blow over the roof to minimize snow drifting.

You recommend that architects under-stand communities and their relationship to the land and the environment. Why is this important in Indigenous design?

I think everyone involved in the design process for all projects should have a voice. I think it is especially important for Indigenous people because they have been ignored for so long. There is a rich heritage of design, patterns, and knowledge of way-finding that can be utilized to make projects unique and potentially great.

View of Piqqusilirivvik in Clyde River, Nunavut. Photo: Dave Brosha

View of Piqqusilirivvik in Clyde River, Nunavut. Photo: Dave Brosha

Ancienne enseignante, Harriet Burdett-Moulton, 68 ans, de Dartmouth, en Nouvelle-Écosse, a été intronisée l’année dernière comme fellow de l’Institut royal d’architecture du Canada. Dans sa carriè-re d’une quarantaine d’années, cette architecte senior chez Stantec Architec-ture a été la première à exercer sa discipline au Nunavut. Elle compte plus de 150 bâtiments dans son portfolio.

Comment votre ascendance métisse a-t-elle défini vos objectifs personnels et professionnels?

J’ai grandi à Cartwright, au Labrador et je sentais que nous étions considérés comme des citoyens de deuxième ordre et que des personnes très douées et intelligentes participaient très peu à leur gouvernance. Je crois fermement que les gens qui utilisent une installation ou un bâtiment devraient avoir leur mot à dire sur leur conception.

Vous insistez sur l’importance d’honorer la «forme autochtone» dans les projets autochtones. Pouvez-vous nous en donner un bon exemple?

La forme autochtone qui reflète le patrimoine ou qui exprime la culture a un sens différent pour les différents groupes culturels. À titre d’exemple, la toiture ondulante du Piqqusilirivvik (le centre d’apprentissage de la culture inuite à Clyde River) qui laisse le vent souffler au-dessus pour atténuer l’accumulation de neige est un bon exemple d’un élément architectural qui représente le patrimoine ou la culture du peuple inuit.

Vous recommandez aux architectes de comprendre les communautés et leur relation avec la terre et l’environnement. Pourquoi est-ce important dans la conception autochtone?

Je crois que toutes les personnes qui participent à un processus de conception devraient avoir leur mot à dire, quel que soit le projet. Je crois aussi que c’est particulièrement important pour les peuples autochtones, parce qu’ils ont été ignorés si longtemps. Il y a un riche patrimoine de design, de motifs et de savoir-faire. Utilisons-le pour créer des bâtiments uniques et même de grands bâtiments.

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