Resembling a huge cedar hat and perched on top of the slope overlooking Lansdowne Road, Na'tsa'maht is a gathering place. Na'tsa'maht, a Salish phrase, means "unity or working together as one".
The Gathering Place
Na'tsa'maht is a physical manifestation of the philosophy, beliefs, and mission of the Centre for Indigenous Education & Community Connections (IECC), where people can meet and engage as diverse communities.
Na'tsa'maht is located very close to the Wilna Thomas Cultural Centre, and provides a welcoming location for Camosun's Indigenous programs to host circle seminars and Elders' teachings.
A big dream
"We dreamed of a place like this for many years," says Janice Simcoe, Director of the IECC department.
"Na'tsa'maht is a home and a touchstone for Indigenous students and it has become one of those sacred places where people stop, become quiet, and reflect. It's also a space where many ceremonies for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people happen."
"I saw the building forming in my mind," says Lkwungen Elder Butch Dick. While attending one of Camosun's bi-annual Camas Harvest and Pit Cook Demonstrations, he envisioned an arbour-like structure and handed a sketch to Janice Simcoe, saying: "Here's your new building." He never expected to see it materialize.
The conical and open-sided design was inspired by traditional Coast Salish building styles. Using 18 huge cedar logs to support the structure, Brad Shuya Architect Inc. prepared drawings from Mr. Dick's sketches and Canpro Construction Ltd. started construction in June 2010. Within the circular structure, a gas-powered fire, surrounded by stones, is centered in a broad expanse of floor. Three tiers of wooden benches look in from the sides offering circular seating for a couple hundred people. Outside, an accompanying Indigenous plant garden has taken root. The building was funded by a special Aboriginal Gathering Place Grant from the BC Ministry of Advanced Education.
Butch Dick also suggested the name of the new building. "It does pay to dream big. Dreams do become realities."
For more information about renting Na'tsa'maht for an event, visit our Facility Rentals page.