Indigenous House


The University of Toronto seeks to respond fully and faithfully with concrete actions, to the challenges issued by the Canada 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Final Report and the 2016 University of Toronto Reconciliation Response Report, Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin. The University has gained important insights into how to accomplish the next steps and Answer the Call, to create inclusive and welcoming environments and dedicated spaces for Indigenous learners, faculty and staff. One such step in this ongoing work, is the building of Indigenous House on the University of Toronto Scarborough.

34 Calls to Action

Learn more about U of T’s 34 Calls to Action, and the University's efforts focused on ensuring that it is a place deserving of Indigenous Communities.

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Rendering of west approach to Indigenous House

Indigenous House symbolizes the University of Toronto Scarborough’s recognition of its responsibility to strengthen and rehabilitate its relationship with Indigenous peoples. It will be a highly visible and integral part of our academic mission, located in the heart of our campus.

Indigenous House at the University of Toronto Scarborough will bring together our community of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous lifelong learners, by supporting and celebrating diverse Indigenous Ways of Knowing locally and from across Turtle Island.

Community mural in The Meeting Place

As part of the engagement process during the design and planning phase, and to ensure reciprocal consultation and authentic relationship building, the UTSC Elders’ Circle and the Council of Aboriginal Initiatives Elders’ Circle, Indigenous stakeholders, students, staff and faculty were consulted. This process also brought together Indigenous community partners and the campus community, to envision how Indigenous House could be a supportive place for the Indigenous community on campus and beyond. During our in-person consultation we co-created a large-scale mural based on Josephine Mandamin’s journey to bring awareness to the problems of water pollution and environmental degradation on the Great Lakes and on Indigenous reserves in Canada. The work was facilitated by Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch.

Land blessing ceremony detail

Blessing the Land

On September 29, 2021, Shannon Simpson, U of T’s director Indigenous Initiatives, Michael White director of U of T’s First Nations House and Indigenous Student Services, and Kelly Crawford, UTSC’s assistant director Indigenous Initiatives, conducted a ceremony to bless the grounds and prepare the land for construction. In doing so, we acknowledge, honour and pay respects to past, present and future activity on the land, and express gratitude for working together moving forward.

Rendering of large gathering place at Indigenous House

The building's natural design aspects will incorporate traditional ways of building, form and durability. It will also support curriculum and cultural expression. The inclusion of a library space will support collaboration and scholarship among students and faculty, and will be an important draw for Indigenous scholarship.

Celebrating the Ground Breaking of Indigenous House

UTSC marks a milestone – the ground breaking of Indigenous House.


Meric Gertler

University of Toronto

Wisdom J. Tettey

Vice-President & Principal
University of Toronto Scarborough

Brian D. Lawson

Governing Council Chair
University of Toronto

Josh Eshkawogan

Campus Elder

Alfred V. Waugh

President, Formline Architecture

This Indigenous space will also bolster the University’s efforts to recruit and retain more Indigenous students, faculty and staff. We continue to forge ahead with raising the final $3.5 million for a culturally reflective space for Indigenous community members to gather, connect and feel at home.

Support for the Future

Your support makes an impact at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Find out more about how you can make this groundbreaking space a reality.

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Rendering of grounds plans of Indigenous House

Using elements of sound and sight and natural materials, Indigenous House will be constructed with an understanding of Indigenous Ways of Knowing. It will serve as a model for sustainability and reduction of environmental impacts, while being fully equipped with modern technological amenities.

Rendering of the Indigenous House grounds plan

The 10,700 sq. ft. space will comprise first floor offices and multi-purpose office space, a lounge area, a communal kitchen and outdoor cooking area, a gallery/vitrine space as well as a children's play garden. The upper floor gathering spaces and meeting rooms will take advantage of the views of the Highland Creek ravine.

Rendering of southwest exterior view of Indigenous House

The building will be designed to achieve Toronto Green Standard Tier 3, and will maximize the use of natural elements and building material, including cross-laminated timber, earth tubes, low energy heating and water conservation. Landscape elements will be inclusive of large outdoor gathering spaces for pow-wows and other seasonal ceremonies, as well as a sunken learning garden, edible, pollinator and rain gardens with space for fire and gathering circle activities.

U of T Scarborough’s Indigenous House draws inspiration from Indigenous culture and ways of knowing.

Monday, September 28 - 2020

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Terraced teaching garden at Indigenous House

Designed for inclusiveness, the concept of universal design will be applied throughout the building. Innovative external and internal features include long lever openers, service animal access, change tables for children and adults, lighting to reduce shadows and glares and height adjustable desks.

Rendering of front entry to Indigenous House

Formline Architecture in association with Toronto-based LGA Architectural Partners, designed the building which will emphasize bold and original architecture. Modelled after Indigenous space concepts such as the wigwam and the longhouse, it will embed Indigenous Knowledge and symbolism throughout.

Another integral part of our Strategic Plan

Inspiring Inclusive Excellence is at the core of everything we do. Learn more about our Strategic Plan and how Indigenous House will help Inspire Inclusive Excellence.

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