Winnipeg Architecture Foundation



Migizii Agamik - Bald Eagle Lodge

Formerly:Aboriginal House
Address:114 Sidney Smith Street
Use:Aboriginal Student Centre
Architects:Eladia Smoke
David Thomas
Firms:Prairie Architect Inc.
Contractors:Dominion Construction

More Information

Migizii Agamik, which translates to “Bald Eagle Lodge,” in Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), is home to the Aboriginal Student Centre at the University of Manitoba’s Fort Garry Campus. The facility houses an Indigenous Student Centre, Access and Aboriginal Focus Programs, Indigenous Engagement, some Native Studies professors, and the University of Manitoba Indigenous Student Association (UMISA). The space acts as a central gathering place for Indigenous students, staff, and non-Indigenous peoples, featuring events, lectures, and student presentations.

The building was designed by Winnipeg Architecture firm, Prairie Architects Inc. The design team involved significant Indigenous architects and designers. Such as, David Thomas, Eladia Smoke, and Destiny Seymour. Prior to construction there was significant Indigenous involvement in the co-design process. Including, 4 Indigenous Elders, student reps, Indigenous alumni and program staff, donors, UofM administrators, cost, energy modelling, LEED and engineering consultants. The design and process reflect Indigenous identity of the students and have become a base for cultural reclamation and growth.

Being respectful to Mother Earth is a crucial practice for Indigenous peoples. The building features a sustainable design that include the use of durable, natural, and recycled materials. Materials that have meaning for Indigenous peoples, how they came from the land, and vegetation. Local materials were harvested, such as tyndall stone, tamarack poles, stone, and wood. Harvesting the natural materials used during the construction reflect an organic and holistic approach, with which you respect those living beings of the land.

The building is LEED Gold Certified for their energy-efficiency and environmental considerations within their design. The features of the building based on the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) include: sustainable site (transportation, green space, reduced heat island effect), water efficiency with a total water use reduction of 52%(aerator faucets, automatic faucet shutoff devices, dual flush toilets and waterless urinal), energy efficiency (south facing glazing, heat pump system, operable windows, energy recovery ventilator, and energy efficient features), materials & resources (durable, recycling programs), and indoor environmental quality (optimal ventilation).

In the design, the building manifests Indigenous knowledge and values that further celebrates the culture. The project design was based on the teachings of the traditional medicine wheel with the formal historic planning of the University. The plan is organized into four components using the four cardinal directions as the cultural orientation: a student reading room, lounge, two storey circular entrance lobby, and a gathering place. A circular Healing Room at the west of building partially shelters an outdoor ceremonial space on the North side of the building. The main entrance faces the rising sun and respects the East, a direction that signifies rebirth and new life.

Design Characteristics

Size:16,000 sf
  • LEED Gold Certified
  • Local materials, Tyndall stone for the stone wall along the entrances
  • Indigenous materials, such as stone and wood to reflect the organic and holistic approach
  • Plan is organized into four components, using the four cardinal directions
  • Locally harvested tamarack poles that represent the seven grandfather teachings in Anishinaabe culture
  • Student lounge, thirteen poles represent the thirteen moons
  • Indigenous plants that represent the students home communities
  • The main entrance faces the rising sun and respects the East, a direction that signifies rebirth and new life