LU honours history of architecture school land

Construction is set to begin at the site of the new architecture school at the old Market Square building in downtown Sudbury — but before that happens an important cultural ceremony had to take place first.

Downtown Sudbury land was home to historical First Nations trading site

Members of Whitefish Lake First Nation take part in a ceremony honouring the land on which Laurentian University's School of Architecture will soon be built. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Construction is set to begin at the site of the new architecture school at the old Market Square building in downtown Sudbury — but  before that happens an important cultural ceremony had to take place first.

The Laurentian School of Architecture will sit on a historically important spot for the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation. A sunrise ceremony was held Friday morning to commemorate the history of the First Nation, which is also known as Whitefish Lake First Nation. The Aboriginal reserve sits on the western edge of Greater Sudbury.

Chief Steven Miller said he doubts many in the city know the history of the land.

"It's probably not a common-known fact, but back in the late 1800s and early 1900s we did travel up the junction creek to the downtown area to trade," he said.

'There's always a history'

Architecture school director Terry Galvin invited Chief Miller to conduct the sunrise ceremony before construction begins.

Galvin said the school wants to have a strong connection with Aboriginal communities.

"It's extremely important to understand that, symbolically, it was their land," he said.

"To occupy any site, it's never tabula rasa — it's never empty — there's always a history."

The first contracts for remodelling the old Market Square building will go to tender next month.

Galvin said construction should begin early in the new year.

The architecture school is expected to welcome its first class in the fall of 2013.