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A growing ‘home away from home’ for Indigenous students

Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre set to double in size.

144 and 146 Barrie Street. The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre is currently housed in 146 Barrie and will be expanding next door in 2018. (University Communications)
144 and 146 Barrie Street. The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre is currently housed in 146 Barrie and will be expanding next door in 2018. (University Communications)

Queen’s Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre is doubling in size.

The design process for the expansion of the centre, which will involve the house next door to its 146 Barrie St. location, is now underway. Renovations to both 146 and 144 Barrie are expected to begin in the new year.

“As enrolment among Indigenous students increases at Queen’s, we recognize that Four Directions has outgrown its space,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean (Student Affairs). “In line with recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Task Force, we are excited to be creating a new, larger ‘home away from home’ for students, with more amenities and staff, as well as programming and community-building opportunities.”

The university has engaged Two Row Architect, a firm based in Six Nations that has worked on many post-secondary campuses. Consultations with students, staff, faculty, and community members took place over the summer, to identify values, goals, and aspirations for the new facility. These include learning, inclusivity, the presence of craft, the importance of food, connection to the earth, and the integration of natural materials, natural light, and views.

The current plan is for one building to be used for gatherings and activities, including feasts and cultural programming, while the other will be offices, where students will meet one-on-one with staff, and student study spaces including a first-floor library.

“We want to create more spaces for all of our students to gather, connect, and learn,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), the university’s inaugural Director of Indigenous Initiatives, who served as Director of the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre for the past seven years. “Expanding the centre is an important part of the reconciliation work underway at Queen’s. It will help us continue to build relationships across campus and in the local community, and increase the visibility and awareness of Indigenous cultures, knowledge, teachings and supports.”

The $600,000 project is being primarily funded by the Division of Student Affairs. The federal government is also contributing through an Enabling Accessibility Fund grant for upgrades that will make both buildings more accessible. During construction, the centre will remain open while work is done on the second building. Operations will then temporarily move to the new building, as the current centre is renovated.

Learn more about the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre.

Read about the recommendations of the university’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force