First Peoples House (FPH)

First Peoples House
First Peoples House

First Peoples House supports the academic, emotional, spiritual and physical needs of First Nations students, while recognizing and honouring the diversity of values and beliefs amongst First Nations. The building features a ceremonial hall, elders' rooms, classrooms and offices for Aboriginal liaison and student activities.

The site of First Peoples House is near the centre of the campus, in the green space along the north edge of the quad to the south of University Centre.

Site: South of University Centre between the Clearihue and Cornett buildings
Building size
: 1,180 GSM
Project budget: $7 million
Occupancy date: August 2009
Design team: Alfred Waugh Architect

Sustainable features include a green roof, storm retention pond and natural ventilation. The site has been landscaped extensively with native trees and vegetation, including Garry oak and Douglas-fir trees.

In its 2007 strategic plan, the University of Victoria pledged to build "on our commitment to our unique relationship with Canada's First Peoples." One of the ways the university stated it would achieve this objective was through the construction of a First Peoples House.

First Peoples House creates an academic and cultural centre for Indigenous students, and a welcoming space on campus for the broader community. Designed by Alfred Waugh Architect of Vancouver in the Coast Salish style, the House includes academic, administrative and ceremonial spaces.

We recognize the special role UVic can play in relation to Canada’s Indigenous peoples. We continue to build on our commitment to and our greatly valued relationship with Indigenous communities. It is our university’s goal to be the university of choice for Indigenous students. — Former UVic President David H. Turpin

Construction on First Peoples House began in April 2008 and was completed in August 2009. The official opening of First Peoples House took place on January 25, 2010.

Alfred Waugh, Chipweyan (Fond du lac Band), of Alfred Waugh Architect of Vancouver, was selected as the prime consultant for the project. Raised in Yellowknife, NWT, Mr. Waugh employs three Aboriginal architects in his firm. His mother, of Chipweyan descent, encouraged him to make a positive contribution to native people. Projects undertaken by his firm reflect his cultural sensitivity. The design for the 12,160-square foot structure is based on research on pre-contact longhouses in Coast Salish territory. The project budget was $7 million, including artwork.

The design of the building is Coast Salish, reflecting the modern and traditional values of the Coast and Straits Salish peoples. The design also incorporates influences from the Interior Salish. Other cultures are represented through their art forms. The architect drew inspiration from various traditional structures, and considered the environment, sunlight and ventilation.

The House has two entrances sheltered by a timber canopy. The main entrance faces east and is framed by two welcoming poles. Two additional poles frame the doorway to the ceremonial hall. The exterior of the House is clad in wide cedar planks, similar to those in pre-European Coast Salish longhouses.

The corridor features a gallery of native art and artifacts.

In November 2010, the Western Red Cedar Architectural Design Awards recognized First Peoples House as one of the best Western Red Cedar architectural designs in the world.

View media release (Nov. 22, 2010)


The ceremonial hall is built in the Coast Salish Long House design. It is used for ceremonies and special events such as graduation celebrations, and accommodates 200 people. Carved cedar posts stand outside the hall. The room has a fireplace and wood bleachers.

  • Entry hall
  • Ceremonial hall
  • Change rooms for dancers
  • Elders' lounge
  • Lounge
  • Kitchen
  • Classroom for 25 students
  • Seminar room
  • Computer lab
  • Reading room
  • Faculty offices
  • General office/reception area
  • Director and staff, Office of Indigenous Affairs
  • Aboriginal Counsellor’s office
  • Aboriginal Student Advisor’s office
  • Native Students’ Union office
  • Aboriginal project staff
  • Washrooms (male, female and unisex)
  • Janitorial room
  • Storage room
  • Mechanical room

The rooms associated with tradition and culture are adjacent to the eastern entrance to the building. Progressing down the naturally lit corridor, the academic zone starts with classrooms on one side and offices on the other.