The centre, designed by world-renowned architect Douglas Cardinal, will be an inclusive space that will house the Aboriginal Students' Centre, Indigenous Students' Council and will have spaces for ceremony and learning. Its location between the Arts Building and the Murray Building make it central to campus.
"I look forward to seeing the new centre rise in the core of our campus on Treaty 6 land," said Ilene Busch-Vishniac, U of S president and chair of the project's steering committee. "I know this centre will become a symbol of student support, success, learning and cultural understanding. The centre is intended to be so much more than just a building."
As part of the planning and in preparation for the ground breaking, the president took part in a sweatlodge and tobacco ceremony to honour the traditions and recognize Aboriginal Peoples' important role on campus.
Busch-Vishniac said she is confident that the Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre will help Aboriginal students feel supported at the U of S as they pursue their educational and personal goals. More than 1,700 students at the U of S have voluntarily self declared themselves as Aboriginal.
"The U of S Students' Union (USSU) has one of the largest First Nations and Métis memberships of all student unions in Canada and we take pride in that," said Max FineDay, USSU president who is also a member of the steering committee. "This centre is a great first step in showing First Nations and Métis students that they are valued and recognized at our university."
Seventeen elm trees will be removed to make room for the centre, and the wood from the trees will be incorporated into the design of the building. It is university policy that whenever plant growth is disturbed due to age, health, storm damage or development, tree replacement occurs.
The contract for construction of the building was awarded to Clark Builders. The building is expected to cost $17 million, with $4.7 million coming from private donors, and is slated to open in early 2015.
For more information about the building visit http://facilities.usask.ca/construction_and_renovation/major-projects/gordon-oakes--red-bear-student-centre/index.php
The ground breaking is part of the university's celebration of National Aboriginal Day. The institution also unveiled Aboriginal symbols that will be part of its future marketing initiatives. The symbols can be viewed at http://communications.usask.ca/guides/aboriginal-symbols/index.php
For more information, contact:
University of Saskatchewan