Swan River First Nation is a Woodland Cree community located on the south-central shore of Lesser Slave Lake. The First Nation takes its name from the river of the same name that rises in the Swan Hills to the south and flows north into Lesser Slave Lake. Most of the reserve lands fall within the former delta of the Swan River. SRFN is part of five First Nations that are located near the shores of the lake that includes Kapawe’no, Sucker Creek, Drift Pile and Sawridge.
Swan River First Nation Elders Lodge is a unique facility and is designed to accommodate Elders that are living on the reserve. The Lodge will offer much needed community services to them, and is based on a holistic vision of ‘wellness’ and above all strives to foster a sense of community among the Elders. The Lodge is also imagined as a living, meeting and gathering place for social, spiritual and intergenerational activities, and designed to enhance quality of life and promote socially active lifestyle based on Indigenous cultural values.
THE COMFORT AND SAFETY OF HOME
In our workshopping sessions, community members defined the project’s success in terms of its connection to the land, sustainable design and a welcoming place for the rest of the community to foster culture based intergenerational teachings. The layout of the Elders Lodge is inspired by a small Woodland Cree settlement, where the Long Houses and Tipis/Sweat lodges surround a central communal area that is used for various activities and gatherings. Similar to the concept of the Indigenous settlement, the residential units in the Elders Lodge are arranged around a central hall, a multi-functional, flexible common area designed to encourage activities that are focused on promoting regular encounters among the residents to create a sense of home. This central space is imagined to be a flexible area that will adapt to various communal activities including meal services, inter-generational gatherings and a casual social space.