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Toward culturally adapted indigenous communities

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1 Toward culturally adapted indigenous communities
Representations of Territory and Identity Markers in Innu Camps Toward culturally adapted indigenous communities Ekuen kuei tshika itetnau nutem eteshiek. Tshe mishta pushukatetnau, Hi everyone, my name is Gaëlle André-Lescop and i’m a member of the Innu First Nation in Canada. I’m from the community of Mani-utenam. I want to thank the Samis and the Swedes to welcome us on their land and beautiful place for this conference. I recently graduated from a master degree in Urban design at the School of Architecture in Quebec. My presentation will be on my Master’s essay : the Representations of territory and identity markers in innu camps. AFN Gaëlle André-Lescop, eng. M. Sc. Architecture - Urban design

2 Urban Settings Innu community of Mani-utenam
At a time when the Innus spend the majority of the year in urban settings, we can ask how indigenous communities can better their quality of life by restoring basic cultural references within those living environments. This study attempts to understand how different ways of settling on the traditional territory may reveal genuine Innu ways of life and help give form to culturally adapted residential environments. A researcher called Doran (2008), who has been interested in how spirituality is lived and changed as the Innu are in the territory or on the reserve, brings up an interesting point of view. The author quotes an informant who remarked that "the whites felt the need to arrange their land according to their taste - with flowers, trees, even water bodies or rock gardens - whereas for the Innu, It was much more natural to take nature as it was and let it be herself, as it was "(Doran, 2008: 118). Innu community of Mani-utenam

3 Innu Ancestral Land « Nitassinan » (our land)
What you see in green on the map is the Nitassinan, meaning in Innu language « our land ». Beyond being an ideal, It’s still a culture matrix and a first-order referent for identity. The red spots on the map is where the innu communities are located, what we also call reserve. Nitassinan ( km2) Innu community/indian reserve Occupation by Innus from Uashat/ Mani-utenam/Matimekush

4 The Bush and the Shore Nitassinan Innu community Bush/Inland Shore
Matimekush Before the creation of the reserves, Innu people used spend the automn et winter seasons inland, in the bush, to hunt after big animals like caribou, bear, beaver. They used to head back to the shores by the rivers for summer time. Most of the Innu communities are now situated on the shore. The community of Mani-utenam was created in the 1950’s Mani-utenam Uashat Nitassinan Innu community Bush/Inland Shore

5 Survey Shipit Beach For this study, the methodology includes a typo-morphologic analysis which is a method used in urban design to study the urban form and the classification of type of buildings, in order to see if there are common properties and systems underlying the settlement. Here, it concerns more the anonymity of ordinary buildings rather than the so-called remarkable architecture.

6 Survey Shipit Beach The study was carried out on two sites that are occupied seasonally by the Innus of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, the Shipit on the Moisie River, where Innus go to fish salmon in june and the beach of Mani-utenam. Both sites are very close to the reserve, less than 15 minutes by car. The study also takes into account the testimonials of seven Innus who are still going in the bush.

7 Plots Shipit Beach We observe that the majority of the camps are settle by the main road, between the waterways and the wooded area. In Shipit, the camps are by the river. At the beach, a certain agglomeration of camps can be observed and a road separates the waterway from the camp.

8 Refuge In general, the plots are irregular and the forest appears to seep through the dwellings. For Innus, there is no subdivision of the land nor cadastre. People have the opportunity to settle where they want, depending on other implicit factors like who used to set his camp there before or the neighborhood, if it’s a relative next door, etc

9 Source : Jacobson, Silverstein and Winslow, 2002
Analysis of the camps based on the book « Patterns of home » (Jacobson, Silverstein and Winslow, 2002) Refuge and Outlook Flow through Rooms/site Composing with Materials Inhabiting the Site Private Edge, Common Core Place in Between Creating Rooms In/Out The camps were also analysed through the patterns illustrated in the book Patterns of home, written by a group of architects. Twenty six camps were studied. Now let’s see what we found out throught the patterns. Source : Jacobson, Silverstein and Winslow, 2002

10 Composing with Materials
Cabin Mid-cabin/mid-tent Tent frame (winter model) Let’s begin with the pattern called « Composing with materials ». The survey shows that there is notable transition from the tent to the cabin in the way the Innus still occupy the traditionnal land. Most of the camps surveyed were cabin. 22 of 26 2 of 26 2 of 26

11 Composing with Materials
At first sight, the cabin could look like a white habitat by its volume and the material used. A closer analysis of those cabins and their surroundings show that many identity markers still remain (persist), in the way that it is occupied and lived. Source : C. Asselin, 2016, Group Habitats+Culture, Laval University, 2016

12 Inhabiting the Site View Topography Relation to the ground
Shipit View Topography Relation to the ground Wind directions Neighborhood Access to water Time of the year The most evident pattern is “ Inhabtiting the site “. Our results reveal that the establishment of camps is lead by a combination of factors that includes both the view, the site topography, the prevailing winds, the access to water and the time of the year. Access to water is required to meet primary needs, but also as a means of access the wildlife and aquatic resources. Beach

13 Flow through Rooms / site
Shipit Beach Accessibility to the site in general remains important. The positioning of the door is of minor importance, as long as one can park the car as close as possible to the door.

14 _The view, in order to track and catch game
« My father might be watching the river and people fish. If he saw someone catch a salmon, he must be thinking : « Well, it's biting, I'm gonna go fishing. » » (Respondent, 2016) When we ask why is it nice to have a view to the river, one of the Innus who help his dad to built their cabin answers : My father might be watching the river and people fish. If he saw someone catch a salmon, he must be thinking "Well, it's biting, I'm gonna go fishing." This highlights a significant nuance in the understanding of the Innu's field of vision criterion. At Shipit, it is accessibility to fishing that motivates people to settle there. Even if the salmon fishing is no longer a means of subsistence, access to the resource is preferred.

15 _The view, in order to track and catch game
The view of the landscape is therefore all the more attractive in terms of tracking game or catch taken rather than purely for its aesthetics. That is an important traditionnal marker that is still alive. A black bear crossing a lake in spring time, Peshemessun, 2016

16 Place in between & Ground relationship
Like the tents, the cabins have a single entrance and barely a transitional space between the inside and the outside. The camps are deposited on the ground rather than being anchored there. This also gives a flexibility to move this type of habitat, which evokes the nomadic feature of the tent. The owner of this cabin, for example, told me that he has moved his cabin from another place because of an ant infestation at the old site.

17 Private Edges, Common Core
Traditional innu model Contemporary In both sites, most of the cabins have only one room, one level, where all the activities take place, like the tent where the setting inside is closely similar. The areas of the cabin and the mid-cabin/mid-tent are scarcely larger than those of the tents.

18 Creating rooms in/out Shipit Beach
With a rectangular frame, It is rather the elements of the external environment that will create the outdoor rooms. The common outdoor living area is always on the front, facing the only door, and ends up extending on the sides, but never behind the camp, despite the traffic. Shipit Beach

19 _Communal and private spaces
In the camps surveyed, the communal space is located in the front. The private space that is in the back of the cabin is not used in the same way as in the North American suburbs where the backyard is reserved for family activities, which are also intended to be more private. In Innu communities, even if the bungalows have second door to access to a backyard, the children still continue to play on the front, even on the street, rather than in the backyard . Beach

20 Creating rooms in/out Shipit Beach
At Shipit, the back of the camp is rather a residual space since the road sometimes passes very close to the camp, at a distance that can be as little as 2 feets. Otherwise, at the beach, the rear space is generally dedicated to storage of equipment, back house or toilet. Shipit Beach

21 Creating rooms in/out The sweat lodges we have seen, which normally require more privacy, are both located on the side of the camp, ,at the edge of the forest.

22 « The community, the new base camp to the territory »
(P. F. Charest, 1996) Since the representation of the territory is linked to the traditional activities of hunting for game and fishing, it is hard to try to introduce this notion of territory within the community, since the innu community is located on the coast and in an urban environment. For some respondants, the natural and built environments diverge too much. Others believe that by encouraging cultural activities within the community, a reminder of the territory could be initiated. Some researchers, such as Paul Charest (1996), give us some cue for a concept, as they draw the analogy between the community and a main hunting camp, From where people come and go to pursuit traditional activities. Source : André-Lescop, Jump over the fence – Matimekush - Final projet in Urban design, Laval University, 2016

23 Actual Highschool Playground in the Community of Matimekush
Let’s see how all this could be embodied for the innu community of Matimekush, which was our final project in urban design with two others fellows. Source : André-Lescop, Jump over the fence / Matimekush, Final projet in Urban design, Laval University, 2016

24 To use the school as an anchor to create a cultural environment
The re-planning of the school yard was aimed at providing space where we could perpetuate knowledge and allow the practice of traditional innu activities, in the heart of the community. In this case, we design a community place where the game is cleaned and prepared in the cabins and where materials used in forest life are made. Source : André-Lescop, Jump over the fence / Matimekush, Final projet in Urban design, Laval University, 2016

25 Identity Markers in Innu Camps
Of course, we can recall the forms and the materiality of the traditional habitat. The tent is a strong evocative element of the desired territory in the community landscape, even for how you feel when you’re inside. With no windows and with the smell of fire and wood stove, it’s easy to cut yourself from the outside environment and to transpose mentally into the territory. Tipis is kind of a world famous symbol for the First Nations. When we talk about about housing, settlement or architecture, it’s always the first thing that comes up in our head. Last fall, I attended to conference and the speaker, a Sami Architect, was also facing the same kind of challenge in architecture. Can we think about something else than the tipi for the design of our buildings for our communities?

26 Settlement Camps at the beach Houses in the community of Mani-utenam
Finally, we can conclude that we should focus on a field of vision towards the elements of the landscape / activities and to position the habitat according to the natural features of the site rather than constraining it to sit parallel to other adjacent buildings and the street. Thank you On parle de la décolonisation. On a tendance à suivre ce que les blancs font. Houses in the community of Mani-utenam


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