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Circle of Life Thunderbird House is intended to serve as a physical representation of the strength and capacity of Aboriginal peoples in Winnipeg. It symbolizes the gifts that Aboriginal peoples have and are willing to share with all races.

The property is situated on the southeast corner of Higgins Avenue and Main Street. It is in close proximity to the Mount Royal Hotel, the Neeginan Homeless Shelter, the Salvation Army hostel and the Main Street Project. Also in the immediate vicinity are the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg and the Manitoba Métis Federation office building. Circle of Life Thunderbird House is within minutes travel of The Forks, Manitoba’s Museum of Man and Nature, the Manitoba Indian Cultural Education Centre, and the future home of the Human Rights Museum.

Designed by Aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal, whose work includes the highly acclaimed Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, the Circle of Life Thunderbird House is described as a striking “one-story ring of glass and timber, encircled from above by the down spread wings of a proud copper clad eagle. Inside, soft wood tones, white walls and generous natural light create an aura of welcome and sanctuary”.

The building has four entrances leading into an open centre court with a seating capacity of 350, encircled by a boardroom with seating for twelve, four office spaces, and a full kitchen. Its four entrances or doorways represent the four cardinal directions, the four winds, and the four races of humankind — White, Yellow, Black and Red.

A Teepee-shaped structure on Circle of Life Thunderbird House’s southeast side houses the Sweat Lodge or Madoodosan. Constructed at a later time, the Sweat Lodge has been host to thousands of visitors who have come to experience teaching ceremonies. It includes modern change rooms, showers and a laundry facility. Set up adjacent to the Sweat Lodge are several Traditional Teepees that are used for various programs. These Teepees are available for community meetings and ceremonies as well.

While the physical description provides a picture of what Circle of Life Thunderbird House is, it is more important to understand what it is in relation to the community it is expected to serve. This can be visualized through its statement of mission, the needs it seeks to address, and the strategies it seeks to employ to build strength and capacity, internally, and within the community.

 

 

Last Updated (Friday, 17 September 2010 17:20)