Gordon Oakes Redbear Student Centre opens early January
- EFN Staff | December 21, 2015
The Gordon Oakes Redbear Centre on the University of Saskatchewan is set to welcome students in the New Year. The building is an architectural beauty. Created by renowned Métis and Blackfoot architect Douglas Cardinal, the stone and wood building will be a safe and welcoming place for students and ceremony on campus.
“Yes Aboriginal students face many unique challenges but they are also leaders. Here we can bring together a community of people,” said Graeme Joseph, Team Leader, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Student Success at the University.
he building is named after the late Gordon Oakes Redbear who was the Chief of the Nekaneet First Nation from 1958-1962 and 1970-1992. Oakes was a strong believer in education and honouring one’s culture and traditions.
No detail was overlooked in developing the $17 million building. The ceiling is decorated as a medicine wheel, using the colours of the Oakes family-yellow, red, blue and white. The feature skylight of the building at the centre of the medicine wheel was inspired by the patterns on a star blanket. The Elders said that for ceremony to be right, they still had to be connected to the earth. So ground was saved from the excavation and a large pillar in the basement contains all that dirt, connecting the centre ceremonial part of the building to the ground. Some of the decorative wood used in the building is from the elm trees cut down to accommodate the construction and a ventilation system is hidden in the ceiling that expels smoke in the four directions.
Tyndall stone adorns the building with two rows of inlayed tile encircling the building representing the wampum belt and one of the first treaties negotiated in what would later become Canada. The building is also built over a tunnel that connects the Health Sciences Building to the Arts Tower and the rest of campus allowing students safe and warm passage around campus
Coming in at 1884 square metres, the Centre will host the Aboriginal Students Centre as well as the Indigenous Students Council and the Indigenous Graduate Students Association. There is also a computer and docking lab, meeting rooms and gender neutral bathrooms. Lots of them.
Joseph sees the building as more than just stones. “This will be a place of intercultural education, communication and dialogue where we get people together to talk about the issues,” added Joseph. “And it is also a safe place where students can come and utilize services. But it is mostly about building a community.”
The Gordon Oakes Redbear Centre is open for business on January 4th and with an official grand opening in the first week of February.