Home Interiors & Furnishings in Remote Northern First Nation Communities
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The First Nations communities of Northern Manitoba, Canada, have been facing an extreme housing crisis. Overcrowding paired with insufficient funding, low-quality materials and mould contamination has created an uninhabitable environment where hepatitis, acute rheumatic fever, asthma, and tuberculosis are nine times more prevalent on remote northern reserves. Given that adequate shelter is considered one of the fundamental requirements of life, the circumstances seen on reserves are unacceptable. This Master of Interior Design Practicum project explores how to address the housing crisis through a series of literature reviews, precedent analysis and firsthand experience building in remote First Nations communities. Research begins with recognizing one's problematic inherited Western Bias, a critical starting point when organizing a culturally oriented design framework. Literature is further explored to define Indigenous design and architecture, creating the foundation for a culturally appropriate housing solution to build on. The honourable harvest and resilient design concepts uncover ways to build homes that sustain the people living within them and sustain the land from which the raw materials are harvested. The complexity that is homeownership on-reserve is addressed as building strategies and energy independence contributes to self-determination. Additionally, the lessons learned from historical and modern Indigenous home design ground findings from literature in real-life housing solutions. Looking into a wide range of Indigenous housing solutions helps bridge the gap between traditional ways of knowing and modern schools of thought. Lastly, designing and building in remote First Nations communities with the Mino Bimaaiziwin Partnership has been an all-encompassing learning experience that has shaped all aspects of the design process and outcomes. This unique and life-changing opportunity completely reformed how I now approach design, my relationship with the earth and the ongoing effort to reconciliation.