Blue Quills University, formerly known as Blue Quills First Nation College, is the first First Nations-owned and operated university in Canada. The institution is jointly owned by seven First Nation band governments, including Beaver Lake, Cold Lake, Frog Lake, Whitefish Lake, Heart Lake, Kehewin, and Saddle Lake. The former residential school, which is the site of our project, has a difficult and heartbreaking history; now, Indigenous people are working to reclaim the space through reconciliation, ceremony, and healing. The building, it was determined, would not be destroyed, and would endure to serve as a direct reminder of the experience of the residential school survivors.
The Blue Quills university project is an act of sovereignty, with the existing residential school to be retained and its renovation an integral part of the masterplan. The mission of the Blue Quills university is to support the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental needs of its members through the delivery of quality education. Their holistic and integrated perspective on well-being and learning aligns with our own multifaceted and inclusive design process. Through extensive and collaborative stakeholder workshop sessions, we created a vision of the college that would well-accommodate 1000 students and staff and provide for future growth and expansion.