Finding identity through design: re-envisioning Ikwe-Widdjiitiwin, an Aboriginal women’s shelter
Domestic violence is a pervasive social problem among Canada’s Aboriginal population, occurring at a rate three times higher than the national average. Historical factors including colonization, residential schools, and loss of cultural identity have been identified as some of the root causes. Therefore,the need exists for a culturally appropriate shelter for women and children to escape abusive situations. This interior design practicum project responds to this need by proposing the design of an Aboriginal women’s crisis shelter, Ikwe-Widdjiitiwin. The focus of the design is to provide a culturally sensitive environment where residents feel safe and supported, thus promoting healing through reattachment to Aboriginal culture. The design is informed by an exploration of traditional Aboriginal architecture and gendered space; and by photo-elicitation interviews with staff members of Ikwe-Widdjiitiwin, an Aboriginal women’s shelter in Winnipeg, Manitoba.