Sioux Lookout building recognized by Ontario Association of Architects

By Eric Shih
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Thunder Bay Source

Each year on World Architecture Day, which falls on the first Monday of October, the Ontario Association of Architects celebrates architecturally outstanding buildings selected among nominations from MPPs.

This year, the Jeremiah McKay Kabayshewekamik hostel in Sioux Lookout was selected as one of nine “Queen’s Park Picks.”

The building was nominated by Sol Mamakwa, the MPP for the riding of Kiiwetinoong.

“It’s a unique building. You see on the roof of the building, the hand drum, how it acknowledges the 30-plus First Nations that are serviced by that facility,” said Mamakwa. “And Kabayshewkamik in our language means… a place that when you are away from home, it’s a place of rest.”

According to the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, which runs the building as a place to stay for people with medical appointments, “the facility is named after Jeremiah McKay, a respected member of the Kasabonika Lake First Nation and an instrumental leader for better healthcare in the community.”

The hostel has a total of 54 suites for a variety of people and family situations, as detailed on the OAA website profile of the selected buildings. The two dormitory wings are connected by “a large, open lobby space – a central hub that houses communal activities including the main reception, group dining, lounge, and a children’s play space.”

The Jeremiah McKay Kabayshewekamik hostel in Sioux Lookout in is one of this year’s Queen’s Park Picks. (Photo courtesy of the Ontario Association of Architects.)

It was completed in 2011 by ft3 Architecture Landscape Interior Design in association with Manasc Isaac Architects (now called Reimagine), said the OAA in a release.

The building’s connected to the hospital directly, so patients don’t need to go outside when they get care, said Mamakwa.

“I’m very honoured on behalf of [SLFNHA], the town of Sioux Lookout and [residents] who welcomes the people who travel for medical appointments.”

He noted the hostel has been over capacity for a number of years, requiring another one to be built.

SLFNHA said the “vision and design of the facility was determined through input from a large number of stakeholders, including; First Nation members, Chiefs, Health Canada and the Government of Canada, the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority, Elders, future generations, hostel staff, families, the Municipality of Sioux Lookout and the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre.”

The OAA said with the easing of public health restrictions, community-centred buildings are coming to the fore and “an emerging theme from this year’s QP Picks is community, with numerous buildings playing important roles as spaces where people gather.”