Outdoor Gathering Space

A rendering of the outdoor gathering space

Indigenous Outdoor Gathering Space

What is the Indigenous Outdoor Gathering Space?

The Indigenous Outdoor Gathering space at the University of Waterloo is a prominent Indigenous structure meant to:

  1. Teach, celebrate, and bring awareness about Indigenous peoples and cultural practices through structure design, informational plaques, events, and garden plantings.
  2. Gather people for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit-focused events and celebrations organized by Indigenous people. It will also provide an outdoor classroom setting for any professor or facilitator educating on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit content, and be an additional space for all campus communities to gather and sit freely when the space is not in use for events or classes.
  3. Make a statement; the space is meant to be a physical presence to let the campus community know there is Indigenous presence on campus, including histories tied to the area as well as contemporary Indigenous diversity and uses of the land.

About the structure

The Office of Indigenous Relations is working with the Design Studio at BrookMcIlroy. The work at BrookMcIlroy is led by Principal Ryan Gorrie, who is Anishinaabeg and a member of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (Sand Point First Nation on Lake Nipigon). Ryan and team led a large number of Indigenous campus community members through a lengthy and involved consultative process that led to the schematic design shown below.

The structure and design elements were taken from nature; some highlights include:

  • 33 posts representative of a treed forest.
  • A roof structure comprising four parts that are wing-like; they slant and overlap. This feature and its four-part element can serve as a teaching tool on Indigenous cultures, pedagogies, and ideologies.
  • The roof structure also allows for interaction with natural elements, such as wind to freely flow through.
  • The roof design in terms of patterning and coloring is modeled after a trout species native to the Grand River.
  • The wood chosen for the structure and seating area is Alaskan yellow cedar.
  • The floor will be a crushed clay surface.
  • Lighting for safety and colored illumination will be throughout with controls housed in SLC.
  • The structure contains four large seating areas.
  • Trees and plants with significance to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures will be featured a few months after completion.
  • The total height on the structure is 6.1 M (20 feet).
  • The diameter of the structure from the outer ring of the columns is 15488 mm (50.8 feet).
  • The roof overhang is 2’ 9 ¾” .
  • The circumference of the structure including the overhang is 177 feet.
  • The circumference of the structure around the outer ring of the columns is 159 feet.
colourful tiles in a circle

This trout is native to the Grand River. The tile design and colours were chosen by Indigenous campus community members who participated in a poll.

two side by side images: close up of a trout and scales and tiles reflecting the colours and patterns
A rendering of the outdoor gathering space


Construction has officially begun on the Indigenous Outdoor Gathering Space! Members of the Office of Indigenous Relations visited the space on Wednesday, December 13th, to smudge, lay tobacco, offer a song and prayers to the space, the earth, the animals, and the trees as a way to give acknowledgment of the change and disturbance and give thanks for the goodness and positive ripple effect that the space will bring in terms of sharing, teaching, and building community and relationships.

Construction will take place over the winter and spring with anticipated completion in fall of 2024.


The Office of Indigenous Relations intends to work with Indigenous campus community members to determine an appropriate name for the space once it is completed.

If you have any questions about this space, we welcome you to email indigenousrelations@uwaterloo.ca.