We love teaching natural building workshops, and we love getting people involved through our workshops. This summer we had an opportunity to teach nine days of natural building in a row. We were invited to lead this series of workshops at Blue Quills First Nations College, in St. Paul Alberta. So, not only were we excited about the educational opportunities of a multi-day, multi-technique workshop, but we were intrigued by the cultural context as well.
The College hosted us, and there were participants from ‘off-reserve’ as well as students from the college and community. The intention was to create a platform for learning, and to begin the process of essential skill building. It is not such a secret anymore that housing on First Nations reserves in this country is not in a good state. The little straw bale building is set to create an example of accessible construction, community participation, use of local material, and a design based on the needs of the occupants, with their input.
We were honoured to be invited to take part in a pipe ceremony to start off our ten days. And we also felt very lucky to be able to participate in not only one, but two sweats. These are really special events, and we strongly felt the importance of each. It was amazing to sit in such a thick darkness, with air so hot it was hard to breathe, listening to the beat of the drum. Throughout the week there were also bits of tradition and ceremony mixed in with the building work, as each completed project was given a set of prayer flags once our work was finished.
Photos below of our time at Blue Quills: