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Seneca’s Odeyto building wins 2019 Toronto Urban Design Award

Seneca’s Odeyto building wins 2019 Toronto Urban Design Award

Odeyto Indigenous Centre, home of the First Peoples@Seneca at Newnham Campus, has won the 2019 Toronto Urban Design Award in the Public Buildings in Context category.

The structure is shaped like an upturned canoe to represent students leaving their communities to stop at Seneca for education before continuing on their journeys. The name “Odeyto” – meaning ‘the good journey’ in Anishinaabe – captures that essence by providing a safe and recognizable space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike in the community.

“Post-Secondary was called upon in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to both rectify past wrongs and train future leaders with a strong grasp of Indigenous ways, culture and issues. Seneca was no exception,” said Mark Solomon, Associate Dean of Student Services and Indigenous Education at Seneca.

The building designed by Gow Hastings Architects and Two Row Architect is equipped with an office space, a computer lab and kitchen, as well as a dedicated space for ceremonies and celebrations. The entrances on the east and west sides are aligned with the summer solstice and the outdoor space is used as a traditional herb garden.

“We were inspired by the Indigenous students and staff at Seneca and worked closely with them to realize their own space – purpose-designed and built to honour both their heritage and their future,” said Valerie Gow, Partner, Gow Hastings Architects.

“This award recognizes the considerable efforts that Seneca has made to pay homage to their natural history and to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action in an authentic and inclusive manner as supported by significant Indigenous consultations,” said Brian Porter, Principal, Two Row Architect, an Indigenous-owned and operated firm.

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