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Celina Rios-Nadeau

The RBC Architecture Award

Growing up in a single ­parent home can be challenging, but that hasn’t stopped Celina Rios-­Nadeau from pursuing her dream of becoming an architect.

“I love design and how it really inspires people,” Rios­-Nadeau said. “Through my adolescence, it was a challenge growing up with my mom and two brothers, but since I’ve been in University, I’m starting to develop my own sense of what I want and what inspires me.”

Following her second­ year of study at the McEwen School of Architecture, Rios­-Nadeau’s artistic flair and motivation to achieve academic success were rewarded with a bursary celebrating her Indigenous heritage.

Established by the RBC Financial Group, the RBC Architecture Award is based on academic standing and is presented to a full­time Aboriginal student studying architecture at Laurentian University.

Rios-­Nadeau feels grateful for receiving this award and is greatly encouraged by the “boost of confidence” it has given her moving forward into her third­ year.

“Sometimes school can be very stressful,” she said. “But receiving a bursary definitely helps you focus more on what you want to pursue. It keeps you on the right track of achieving your goals and feels like you are not tackling the problem all by yourself.”

The McEwen School of Architecture has a tri­cultural mandate, which is reflected in the teachings of First Nation and Métis Elders and guests, who provide students with a further array of cultural and educational perspectives.

Rios-­Nadeau believes having an Elder’s opinion on design projects has definitely given her the opportunity to further embrace her Indigenous culture.

“It is an honour and we as students are lucky to engage with these individuals,” Rios­-Nadeau said. “For one of my projects, I did a pavilion inspired by Aboriginal culture that strives to connect all cultures. I designed four panels with different creation stories, as well as the form representing the circle which has many strong representations in Aboriginal symbolism. I received a lot of guidance by the elders Juliette S. Denis and Jerry Otawadjiwan in regards to respecting the placement of entrances and the symbolic representation of each aspect within the design.”

Perspective ­altering interactions with Elders, as well as a number of eye­ opening hands ­on learning experiences, have allowed Rios-­Nadeau to approach her work with new creativity and artistic energy.

“Art and architecture play a hand -in-­hand role, but the creativity of an individual is hard to teach,” Rios-Nadeau said. “One thing the professors teach us is to never approach a project with the same manner as the last.”

Throughout her first and second years, Rios-­Nadeau had the opportunity to work on multiple hands ­on projects, such as the construction of a birch bark canoe and an ice hut, the redesign of St. Andrews Place’s Courtyard and the production of a model of the Dome of the Rock located in Jerusalem.

Rios-­Nadeau feels very optimistic about her future, and hopes to one day become an influential architect in the City of Greater Sudbury.

“Since I’ve learned so much here, I’d like to continue in the path of staying in the north,” she said. “I find Sudbury has small touches of architecture which would be great to expand on. I believe in the north and will do my best to continue to improve it.”

To learn more about supporting the McEwen School of Architecture, please contact the Development Office at Laurentian University.