Embedding Indigenous Knowledge into Housing Design with the Homebuilding Students in Wasagamack and Garden Hill First Nations, Manitoba, Canada


  • Catrina Sallese University of Manitoba
  • Shauna Mallory-Hill University of Manitoba
  • Shirley Thompson University of Manitoba




housing, Indigenous, Northern, remote, inadequate housing


Wasagamack and Garden Hill First Nations in Island Lake, Manitoba, are experiencing a housing crisis, with severe overcrowding. This article describes a research analysis of local materials, building skill levels, environment, demographics, and cultural aspects completed by graduate students in interior design as part of collaborative design/build activities, training programs, and community workshops. This study is part of a First Nation community/university partnership. Healthy, culturally appropriate, resilient single- and extended-family homes were designed using local materials and labour. This pilot project offers a pathway to build capacity to fill the gap of 150,000 homes in a way that advances cultural, health, social, and economic development. Further, a decolonizing policy and the provision of adequate infrastructure, such as access roads, in Indigenous reserves are needed to create a sustainable home-building ecosystem.


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Author Biographies

Catrina Sallese, University of Manitoba

Catrina Sallese graduated with a Masters Degree in Interior Design in September of 2020. She contributed to the training in the community of Wasagamack with the Mino Bimaadiziwin students and drew the blueprints for the actual house that was built. 

Shauna Mallory-Hill, University of Manitoba

Shauna Mallory-Hill, Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture, has more than 25 years of experience teaching and researching building systems, universal and sustainable design, as well as building performance evaluation. A major focus of her research is on how sustainably designed environments impact human health and productivity. Shauna has presented her building evaluation work across Canada, in the USA and Europe, and has been published in several journals and books. One of her latest efforts was co-editing the book Enhancing Building Performance published by Wiley-Blackwell.
Shauna, a LEED Accredited professional in Building & Construction (LEED AP B+C), has served as Director of Education on the Board of Directors for the MB Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC MB - 2011-2013).  Early in her career she also was Executive Director of the Canadian Institute for Barrier-Free Design. She is currently in her 8th year on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), as past-chair, having served as Chair in 2014-15.  
Shauna holds a PhD in Architecture from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands;  a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Manitoba.

Shirley Thompson, University of Manitoba

Associate Professor, Natural Resources Institute







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