Métis elders’ lodge building reaches new heights in Saskatoon – Saskatoon

Members of the Saskatoon Métis Congregation gathered to see construction of the new Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge reach new heights on Wednesday.

To celebrate this milestone, Big Block Construction offered a demonstration of its building process by lowering a completed apartment module with a crane.

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Shirley Isbister, President of the Métis-owned and operated organization, has been working on making the lodge a reality for two decades.

“It was over 20 years ago when we talked and I always knew that an Elders building was a vision for the organization … And there is always the logistics of finding the funds to make that happen. So I was pretty skeptical, ”said Isbister.

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“We’ve had so many opportunities that we thought would prevail over the years, but we didn’t.

“So this is absolutely amazing. And we’ll be able to watch the last unit go up… I’m really impressed, Big Block did such a great job. And David (Fortin), you saw our vision and you brought it there. “

When Métis architect David Fortin returned to Canada a few years ago from his apprenticeship in the USA, he applied for a federal research grant and had a few questions.

“Everyone in our architectural world knew what teepees were, they knew what igloos were, they knew what wigwams are,” he said. “But nobody has ever asked, ‘What about the Métis? In which environment should Métis people be housed in a contemporary way? ‘”

Fortin said his research involved traveling the prairies to see the Métis community buildings to help design the lodge.

“We found through research that the Métis people have their own way of building … houses that looked from the outside as if they would fit in with the colonizing communities. But once you crossed the threshold, they were clearly Métis. They had large open spaces where people could gather, make music and dance together, ”he said.

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“I tried … to translate some of these principles and ideas so that part of the Métis spirit could be found in these buildings.

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“This is really the vision of Shirley and her team and CUMFI and what a great job they have done to make us special here.”

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Elders were involved in the deliberations for the project, and Fortin recalled one particular meeting that had a significant impact.

“(The elder) talked about her home out of town near Batoche and she talks about how they burned all the grass in the spring and then … the houses just looked white,” he said.

“And then she says, ‘I always remember that the community came together and we feasted and there was this black grass and these bright white houses’ and she said,’ They would just fill us with so much joy.

“If you look at the palette of this building, we wanted to play with it a bit. We wanted this building to be a big, bright white beacon. And then you play with something black and wood to bring up some of those stories. “

An artist rendering of the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge in Saskatoon.

CUMFI / Delivered

CUMFI said the lodge on the corner of P Avenue and 19th Street was designed culturally, with features such as an outdoor fireplace for sacred ceremonies and a garden for growing traditional medicine.

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“I just have such a vision and Métis people come together … and be able to teach our children and our youth and visit some children and get knowledge from the elders. Plan trips for the elders to just get out there and be together, ”Isbister said.

“Our goal is to open on November 1st… It’s going to be so great and I told the staff that I was looking for a 12-foot Christmas tree to put up by around mid-November so we would know we were ‘are at home. “

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