April 30, 2021


Three townhall sessions were held in March. The sessions were held with the Host Nations, and Indigenous faculty, staff and students. The architect presented the schematic, illustrated designs, giving people the first look at what could be constructed.

The concept of students walking in worlds has been the foundation of the design. Materials and design will celebrate culture, possibly the use of cedar, referencing weaving in the Great Hall's ceiling, and showcasing Coast Salish artists on panels within the Great Hall.

A wellness room will support smudging. Elders will have their own private space on the first floor. Possible plans include incorporating the element of fire through an indoor/outdoor fireplace, an outdoor carving court outside of a multi-purpose maker classroom and outdoor garden and gathering space.

In the student townhall there were five students and Elder Margaret in attendance. The tone of the townhall was positive overall and the architect co-lead, Ouri, did a great job giving all students an opportunity to speak even when time ran over.

Questions arose about safe space, telling the history of longhouses in the area in the past, sacred spaces and using local First Nations artists in the design elements. The idea to invite Indigenous youth to create some of the art was suggested and agreed to.

Construction remains scheduled for 2022-2023 with a building opening in winter 2023/24.


The presentation was recorded and available to watch online.


If you are an Indigenous student, staff or faculty and you were unable to attend the townhall sessions and you'd like to share any feedback pertaining to the First Peoples' Gathering House project, please email, subject line: First Peoples' Gathering House.


The stakeholder group committee, formerly known as the user committee, met March 29, for the first time and developed the terms of reference. The committee's mandate is to provide user input regarding design and other issues to support the functional needs and physical requirements of/for primary users and service providers. The committee will work with the project team through the design development phase.

The committee has four positions for students:

  • one representing the Indigenous Studies Student Union (ISSU)
  • one representing the First Nations Students Association
  • two Indigenous student representatives

Three of the four seats are filled and the committee is hopeful that The Office of Graduate and Post Doc department will fill the last seat.

SFU staff and faculty membership includes:

  • Jeannie Morgan, assistant professor, Indigenous Studies
  • Ron Johnson, interim director, Office for Aboriginal Peoples
  • Kaylena Ryan, Indigenous student life coordinator, Indigenous Student Centre
  • Nicole Taylor-Sterritt, Indigenous events protocol, Ceremonies and Events

The next meeting will be held April 12.


Efforts over the past few months to solicit a qualified construction management firm through a public competitive procurement process have concluded and Canadian Turner Construction was chosen as the successful proponent. As one of the first tasks, the firm will be working closely with SFU to develop an Indigenous engagement of local First Nations firms, vendors, suppliers and local materials.

As a commitment to sustainability, the project is now registered with Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) aiming for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold.


For more reconciliation news, read online here.