(Post)Colonial Tectonics: reflections on Indigenous spatial practice between the Beautiful Waters and Willow River
I find myself studying architecture in Cambridge, Ontario, a settler on lands stewarded by the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples for countless generations, on a tract following the Grand River (or Willow River) which was promised to the Six Nations. I came here from Toronto (or Tkaronto) - on the shores of Lake Ontario (or Beautiful Waters) - the territory of Huron-Wendat, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee communities throughout time, “purchased” by British settlers from the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The settler view of these two agreements about vast swaths of territory tends to obscure the nature of Indigenous relationships which treaty-making was designed to protect. These erasures have been used to justify the colonial practices which architecture is embedded in, such as clear-cutting and urban sprawl, which disrupted and continue to disrupt reciprocal relationships to land in these places between the river and the lake.
This thesis is an attempt to move past passive understandings of these disruptions by actively reading this colonial milieu and recognizing the work Indigenous peoples are doing to renew these relations in urban areas. The work takes the form of a written collection of reflections, analyses, and speculations on an array of stories, gatherings, art pieces, and structures crafted by Indigenous leaders and in some cases supported by settler allies. Ranging in duration, the works I study creatively undermine imposed spatial orders by pursuing a relational ethic towards community, culture, tradition, environment, and space. By engaging with these practices, I hope to begin a longer process of walking on, looking at, and designing in these places in a better way.
The examining committee is as follows:
Anne Bordeleau, University of Waterloo
Maya Przybylski, University of Waterloo
Jane Hutton, University of Waterloo
The committee has been approved as authorized by the Graduate Studies Committee.
The Defence Examination will take place: April 29, 2020, 2:00pm, Zoom defence.