Douglas Cardinal talks of traditional Cree dwellings like the astchiaukamikw and sabtuan as the inspiration for his design and the relationship of the new building to the snow-bound canvas and pole tent house in Oujé-Bougoumou’s “cultural village” shown here, seem to fit. Nonetheless, Aanischaaukamikw President, Dianne Ottereyes Reid, spoke recently of elders who also described the beams of the building as the interior of a canoe, and alternatively as the ribcage of an animal. A longtime resident of Oujé-Bougoumou told me recently that he had overheard locals comparing the beams to those of Noah’s ark. Their question was, “when is the flood coming?”
What is brilliant is the fact that both Doug Cardinal and Stephen Rotman, who have both worked so hard in designing this building, would be delighted to know that there is a range of interpretations, each as unique as the perspective of the “beholder”, and all indicative that Aanischaaukamikw is striking a resonant, fundamental chord with those who have come in contact with it.
We look forward with great anticipation to sharing this remarkable building, and all that it represents, with thousands more people, and to hearing (and recording!) the many more interpretations that the space will evoke over time.