Brook McIlroy

Brook McIlroy Diversity Badge

Indigenous owned

Toronto, ON, CA | Thunder Bay, ON, CA | Winnipeg, MB, CA

Photographer: David Whittaker
Photographer: David Whittaker
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Awen' Indigenous Gathering Place

The Awen’ Indigenous Gathering Place is a new space for sharing, learning, teaching, ceremony, celebration, and contemplation commissioned by the Town of Collingwood to advance truth and reconciliation.

The Awen’ Gathering Place was designed by architects and landscape architects of Brook McIlroy’s Indigenous Design Studio in collaboration with renowned educator, artist, and poet Dr. Duke Redbird of the Saugeen First Nation. It is an open-air pavilion sited prominently on top of a hill in Harbourview Park, between the lake and the town.

The concept, based on the teachings of Dr. Redbird, is a representation of the layers of the food forest, with each layer linked to one of the Seven Ancestor Teachings. Tilting Alaskan Cedar poles seven metres tall support seven laser cut steel canopies, each of which is cut with a pattern representing plants from a layer of the food forest. Seating platforms below are engraved with the Ancestor Teachings in Ojibwe. The gathering place is lit at night, creating a warm and inviting space visible to the town and the lake.

The Seven Ancestor Teachings are an ancient Anishinaabe/Midewiwin teaching on the ethics of proper behaviour and conduct or “the good way of life”. These teachings are linked to the lands that were for thousands of years the source of life for the Anishinaabeg peoples who gathered foods, medicines, and materials from the forest in the area that is now Collingwood.

An Indigenous gathering place was called for in Collingwood’s Waterfront Master Plan, approved last year and also completed by Brook McIlroy. Throughout the consultation process, members of the Collingwood community expressed desire for recognition of the long-standing Indigenous presence on the land. The project caught the imagination of the United Steelworkers Union, who had planned to hold a district convention in Collingwood in September. A gift from the United Steelworkers Union accelerated the project timeline, and union members donated volunteer time during their convention to install the landscaping. 

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Status: Built
Location: Collingwood, ON, CA
Firm Role: Architects and Landscape Architects
Additional Credits: Cultural Content: Dr. Duke Redbird
Landscape Architecture: Envision – Tatham
Engineering & Lighting Design: Toque Innovations
Timber Fabrication: Nicola Logworks
Steel Fabrication: Lafontaine Iron Werks Inc.
Volunteer Site Works: United Steel Workers Union
Photography: David Whittaker

Photographer: David Whittaker
Photographer: David Whittaker
Photographer: David Whittaker
Photographer: David Whittaker
Photographer: David Whittaker
Photographer: David Whittaker
Photographer: David Whittaker
Photographer: David Whittaker