Author: Catherine McBain

De-Colonial Intersections of Conservation and Healing: The Indian Residential School System

Studio: MArch Thesis

Advisor: Natalia Escobar Castrillón

Year: 2020-2021

Project Description

This thesis explores the spatial conditions related to the territorial and architectural practices pertaining to the Indian Residential Schools [IRS], in the Indigenous territories known today as ‘Canada.’ It investigates the violent juxtaposition of Eurocentric spatial hierarchies within Indigenous territories, to illustrate the multi-scalar spatial means of assimilation. The project alludes to illustrative futures whereby the conservation of landscapes, architecture and territories means designing encounters for healing and critical reflection. This thesis proposes a series of frictional embodied experiences that subvert the IRS memory in order to interrogate its socio-spatial hierarchies and unsettle visitors. Explored through three case studies, the St. Eugene Mission, the Brandon Industrial Institute, and the Mohawk Institute, the thesis reconnects spatial fragments, reclaims territories, and subverts existing architectures. The encounters ultimately suggest connection with erased cultural landscapes, while challenging current hegemonic conservation practices.