Records and Reconciliation: Douglas Cardinal and GPRC

Image: Grande Prairie Regional College, 1970 c. (SPRA 0190.02.01.0284.01)

In 2020, the South Peace Regional Archives launched a major project, titled “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records,” with financial support from Library and Archives Canada. The purpose of the project was to increase awareness of and access to Indigenous-related records within the Archives’ collections: by re-appraising, describing or re-describing, and digitizing more than 300 records in 70 fonds. This project is vital step in the Archives’ ongoing work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are now able to share these records with the community.

Designed by Douglas Cardinal, Canada’s distinguished Indigenous architect, Grande Prairie Regional College was begun in 1974, completed in 1976, in a setting evocative of the Indigenous rhythms of life and textures of the land itself. Cardinal’s design featured sinuous curves and brick carefully laid in a staggered pattern to break up the tendency to linearity which dominated non-Indigenous building. His work is known for its juxtaposition of water and his buildings.

Locate and assess other Cardinal projects, noting the hallmarks of his unique approach to design, and how he links it to Indigenous history and traditional culture. How has Cardinal’s vision influenced other Indigenous architecture since his career began in Alberta in the 1970s?