February 14, 2018
by Canadian Architect
In the Fall of last year, the Canada Council for the Arts selected the Indigenous design project UNCEDED as Canada’s Official representative at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Led by legendary architect and human rights activist Douglas Cardinal, UNCEDED emphasize and celebrate the work of Indigenous architects and designers throughout Turtle Island, with participation now extended to Canada’s Indigenous architecture students.
According to a recent RAIC post, a major educational component of the project is the inclusion of Indigenous students of architecture as part of the Biennale. These students would participate in daily programmatic proceedings, such as being present on the site, offering tours, and responding to visitor questions. This will be a great opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the world’s most important international gathering for our profession, as well as giving Indigenous students accessibility to knowing and understanding the greater architectural community. It will also instil a pride in representing their constituent communities and sharing knowledge and meaningful dialogue with visitors. These positions are extremely important to the operation of the exhibit and a significant responsibility.
As it stands, the plan is to have two students at a time for two-month periods, over the course of the Biennale. Should further funding for the educational program become available, the program will be expanded. UNCEDED co-curator David Fortin sent out a letter to all the directors of architecture schools in Canada, asking that students be made aware of the opportunity, and the responding letters have been eloquent and moving. Fortin has commented that “it is really inspirational to hear these young minds express themselves and how architecture is already providing a vessel to celebrate their identities.”
With the submission process over, the challenge now is to select who will go. As Fortin stated “I am going to struggle to pick six or eight of this group. I really think that we need to brainstorm about how to afford to get more of them to Venice.”