Creating a cultural dialogue : reinforcing cultural identity on First Nations communities through the use of local materials and vernacular strategies
thesisposted on 2021-05-24, 10:36 authored by Ksenia Eic
The focus of this thesis/project is to reinforce the cultural identity of First Nations communities by incorporating local materials, vernacular strategies, and a collaborative effort into the design and build process. The Maliseet First Nations at Tobique, N.B., which will be used as a case study for this thesis/project, has experienced a deterioration of culture and community throughout the years. As oral tradition is fundamental to Maliseet culture, speaking the language, practicing techniques, and engaging with the community is vital in order to uphold the Maliseet people's cultural identity. However, these practices and values are fading in Aboriginal communities throughout the country. Isolated reserves such as Tobique also suffer from a lack of economic development and employment opportunities, causing residents to feel that they must fend for themselves rather than work collaboratively. Currently, almost all residential construction is contracted to outside developers, which use little to no band labour or resources. With limited government funding, houses constructed over the past few decades have generally been low in quality and constantly require repair, with many instances of severe mould damage. Learning from and incorporating vernacular strategies, techniques, and material use would offer appropriate responses to site and climate while reinforcing the Maliseet people's connection with their land and heritage. Engaging the entire community in the design and built process would pass on knowledge, techniques, and cultural values to the younger generation while strengthening the sense of community and cultural identity. An architectural approach which strives to enable a group of people through use of these strategies will promote self-sufficiency, engage the people in their culture and community, and open a cultural dialogue on the possibilities of design and its contribution to an evolving cultural identity.