Image: Frosty by Xinh Studio from the Noun Project.

Image: Frosty by Xinh Studio from the Noun Project.

Resilient Indigenous Housing & Collaborative Design in the Anthropocene

This project takes as its starting point: How does an Indigenous community leverage an interface of Indigenous and Western knowledges to create Indigenous-led Building-Energy Science for community-defined housing needs and desires? How does this holistic approach allow for the creation and implementation of a training framework for capacity building in First Nations communities around cost-effective and resilient housing? This project responds to calls for meaningful anthropological engagement with the natural sciences (and vice versa) on addressing the lived realities resulting from global climate change with the intention of co-creating multidisciplinary teams that produce applied outcomes with Indigenous communities in an ethical way that supports First Nations sovereignty. Participant Action Research (PAR) drives the mixed-method research framework that integrates and affords equitable participation and collective inquiry. This project is organized into four stages: (1) investigation of historical and current housing needs; (2) creating a baseline understanding of ecological issues; (3) creating Prototype Design through community-based design; and (4) developing an Indigenous-focused Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) Research Program.


The Research Team is comprised of expertise from Indigenous scholars, social scientists, engineers, architects, and First Nations community advisors:

Fiona P. McDonald, PhD (UBCO)

Braden Te Hiwi, PhD (UBCO)

Bruno Gareau, PEng. (Cold Climate Housing Research Center, Alaska)

Aaron Cooke, Architect (Cold Climate Housing Research Center, Alaska)

David Wugadusk Issac, Founder of W. Dusk Energy Inc. (Indigenous Renewable Energy Group, Canada).


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Brondizio, Eduardo S. et al. 2016. “Re-conceptualizing the Anthropocene: A Call for Collaboration.” Global Environmental Change 39: 318-327.

Crate, Susan A. 2011. “Climate and Culture: Anthropology in the Era of Contemporary Climate Change.” Annual Review of Anthropology 40(1): 175-194. 

Daes, E. I. 1994. Preliminary report of the special rapporteur: Protection of the heritage of indigenous peoples. Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Commission on Human Rights.

Berkes, Fikret, and Dyanna Jolly. 2002. “Adapting to Climate Change Social-Ecological Resilience in a Canadian Western Arctic Community.” Conservation Ecology 5(2): 18

Durie, Mason. 2004. "Understanding health and illness: research at the interface between science and indigenous knowledge." International journal of epidemiology 33(5): 1138-1143.

Ermine, Willie. 2007. "The ethical space of engagement." Indigenous LJ (6): 193.

Dento, Fatma. 2010. “Climate change vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation: Why does gender matter?” Gender & Development 10(2): 10-20.

Christensen, Julia. 2016. “Indigenous housing and health in the Canadian North: Revisiting cultural safety.” Health & Place 40: 83-90.