History and design
In adopting its 2007 strategic plan A Vision for the Future - Building on Strength, the University of Victoria pledged to "build on our commitment to our unique relationship with Canada's First Peoples." An important step in achieving this objective was the construction of a First Peoples House (FPH). During the summer of 2001, UVic President Dr. David Turpin consulted with Coast and Straits Salish Chiefs and Saanich Elders about how to "create a welcoming and inviting environment" for Indigenous students at UVic. Collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous UVic staff, students and faculty, Coast and Straits Salish Chiefs and leaders, Elders and community members continued throughout the project.
Designed by Alfred Waugh, the FPH opened on January 25, 2010 and quickly lived up to its intended purpose becoming a "home away from home" for many Indigenous students.
The FPH design reflects traditional and modern values of the Coast and Straits Salish peoples, as well as influences from the Interior Salish. Art and artefacts from the Salish peoples and neighbouring Indigenous cultures adorn its foyer and corridors. The building's exterior is clad in western red cedar planks resembling those of pre-contact longhouses. A timber canopy covered in wild grasses and low-maintenance indigenous plant life shelters the House's two entrances.
The FPH has already been recognized for its innovative, sustainable and community-oriented design, having received multiple awards at both the local and international level.