February 1, 2024
Throughout this conversation, Eladia discusses her work in the mass timber sector and highlights the importance of Indigenous design principles. She shares her experience with mass timber projects and highlights how mass timber can tie in with traditional Indigenous building methods. Putting emphasis on the need to bring meaning and cultural awareness into buildings, she discusses the challenges and opportunities involved in teaching Indigenous architecture in universities. Eladia also discusses the potential for Indigenous leadership in forest stewardship and mass timber manufacturing.
In This Episode
KaaSheGaaBaaWeak | Eladia Smoke is Anishinaabekwe from Obishikokaang | Lac Seul First Nation, with family roots in Alderville First Nation, Winnipeg, and Toronto. Eladia has worked in architecture since 2002, and founded Smoke Architecture as principal architect in 2014. She is the first Anishinabekwe architect in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, as well as the third Indigenous woman licensed as an architect in Canada. She taught as a Master Lecturer at Laurentian’s McEwen School of Architecture from 2016 to 2022. She serves as a founding member of RAIC’s Indigenous Task Force. Eladia represented Canada at the 2018 Venice Biennale Unceded exhibition as part of an international team of Indigenous designers and architects. Current professional work includes community-based and institutional projects working alongside Indigenous stakeholders, collaborating with First Nation communities, and listening closely to our Elders.
“Processing is another area I really feel Indigenous peoples could have a leadership role. Right now, we have a very limited number of mills across the nation that can provide mass timber products and we have observed in the architectural field that the demand is actually outstripping the supply in some cases.”
“We need to widen our view of our kinship responsibilities – all those life systems that support us that we depend on – because forest stewardship is definitely more than just the trees.”
“To me, when we make responsible decisions about the materiality we are representing the space with – what we build with, how we build it, the stories that what we build tell – that’s how we can get over this hump of being an extractive species”
Connect with Eladia
Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
On the Topic of Relationships:
- The Mishomis Book by Edward Benton-Banai: https://www.whetung.com/products/mishomi-by-edward-benton-banai-best-seller
- And Grandma Said by Tom Sakokwenionkwas Porter: https://goodminds.com/products/9781436335652
- Anishinaabe Ways of Knowing and Being by Dr. Lawrence W. Gross: https://www.routledge.com/Anishinaabe-Ways-of-Knowing-and-Being/Gross/p/book/9781138247482
Resources for Architects:
- The Handbook of Contemporary Indigenous Architecture: https://search.worldcat.org/title/1085698142
- Our Voices (both #1, and #2): https://oroeditions.com/product/our-voices
We wish to acknowledge this land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.