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Two new scholarships from Perkins&Will are awarded to support Indigenous Architects in Canada

The annual awards are now available to Indigenous students in partnership with Laurentian University and Indspire

(February 22, 2023) - Perkins&Will is pleased to announce the recipients of the studio’s Architecture Excellence and Graduate Architecture awards for Indigenous students enrolled in the Bachelor and Master programs at Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture. The two new annual scholarships were created as part of the studio’s commitment to reconciliation in Canada. Matched in available years by Indspire, Canada’s national, award-winning Indigenous registered charity, students will be awarded up to $5,000 for each scholarship. Recipients will also be granted an internship at Perkins&Will’s donor studio in either Vancouver or Calgary.

“Indigenous peoples are underrepresented in architecture with less than thirty professionals registered in Canada. We created these scholarships to support talented students to graduation and build capacity within the field,” says Susan Gushe, Principal and Managing Director of the Vancouver and Calgary studios of Perkins&Will.

The awards were conceived in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action report. Further demonstrating its commitment, the studio developed an internal Reconciliation Working Group and engages with Indigenous consultants to speak with and educate employees around knowledge of Indigenous culture and history. The studio continues to advocate to bring Indigenous peoples to the table and to involve them in projects in a meaningful way.

“The McEwen School of Architecture is proud of its tri-cultural mandate with Indigenous learning embedded in many courses throughout the program and members of Indigenous communities, Knowledge Carriers, and Elders contributing regularly in design and theory courses. The McEwen School of Architecture is proud of the students and graduates who have chosen to learn, apply, and respectfully engage to support further knowledge and design with and for Indigenous peoples,” said Dr. Tammy Gaber, Director and Associate Professor at Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture.

As the only University in Canada with a tri-cultural mandate, Laurentian offers a comprehensive approach to Indigenous education. Indigenous worldviews and knowledge are present in courses and community settings throughout the program. Design studio options include ‘Architecture and Craft,’ ‘Indigenous Design’ or ‘Community Building’ and emphasis is placed on developing expertise in wood and sustainable materials.

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with Perkins&Will and Laurentian University on this important initiative. These scholarships not only represent a significant new opportunity for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students who want to pursue careers in architecture, it is also a tangible sign of reconciliation in action. We look forward to walking this productive path together with Perkins&Will and Laurentian University,” says Mike DeGagné, President and CEO of Indspire.


Perkins&Will, Indspire and Laurentian University congratulates the following award recipients: 

The Perkins&Will Canada Indigenous Graduate Architecture Award

  • Recipient for the 2022-2023 academic year: Kyara Wendling, MA Architecture student
  • Recipient for the 2021-2022 academic year: Bohdana Chiupka Innes, MA Architecture graduate

(This award is distributed to Indigenous students who are enrolled in the Masters in Architecture program at Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture. The recipient is selected based on academic achievement and a thesis research project.)

The Perkins&Will Canada Indigenous Architecture Excellence Award 

  • Recipient for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 academic years: Mackenzie Pitawanakwat, BA Architecture student

(This award is distributed to third and fourth year Indigenous students who are enrolled in the Bachelor of Architectural Studies program at Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture. The recipient is selected based on academic achievement and design excellence.)

To find out more about the awards or apply, visit: Application deadlines are February 1, August 1, and November 1. 

More about the winners

Kyara Wending was born and raised in Port Colborne but is also a member of the Archigantegou community. She is a 2nd year Master's in Architecture student studying and writing her thesis in French at Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture. Kyara describes being fortunate to have learned a great deal about history and the significance that buildings hold through travel. “Buildings are artifacts that speak to us about how past cultures leave a lasting impact on today's world. As an artist, I've always wanted to leave my mark and I believe architecture is my outlet.” After graduation, Kyara hopes to continue working in the field of architecture in Canada and become a registered architect. She is eager to focus on integrating Indigenous methodologies, traditional knowledge and culture within the context of architecture. “I hope to continue to engage with various Indigenous communities and empower them through the built environment by learning from those around me while also continuing to find my own identity through my work.”

Bohdana Chiupka-Innes is a Moose Cree from Moose Cree First Nation. Having fostered an interest in Interior Design since a young age, Bohdana’s passion to learn more about Indigenous Architecture found her applying to Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture where she obtained her B.Arch in 2020 and M.Arch in 2022. “Learning about Indigenous Architecture at Laurentian University and how architecture can be a way to express our culture through built form has become a passion of mine. I hope to work with Indigenous communities across Turtle Island, bringing their vision and culture to life through architecture. Learning the history of our people is important, and I see Architecture as a way for our people to heal by connecting back to teaching and traditions through building design.”  

Mackenzie Pitawanakwat is an Anishinaabekwe from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation. She is a fourth-year student studying her Bachelor in Architectural Studies at Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture. From a young age, Pitawanakwat found passion in the act of designing and creating. Keeping inclusivity in mind, she describes that she has benefited from the McEwen School of Architecture’s curriculum that supports the integration of Indigenous and natural materials in building and design. She has also benefited from interaction and guidance with elders and knowledge carriers (First Nations and Métis). “As an architect, I hope to influence the world we live in by working diligently to bridge the gap between a holistic and technical relationship within Architecture itself. I hope to contribute to First Nations Architecture and representation with the goal of giving back to my community and Indigenize land through design.”


About Perkins&Will:
Perkins&Will, an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm, was founded in 1935 on the belief that design has the power to transform lives. Guided by its core values—design excellence, diversity and inclusion, living design, research, resilience, social purpose, sustainability, and well-being—the firm is committed to designing a better, more beautiful world. Metropolis named Perkins&Will “Firm of the Year” in 2022 for its industry leadership in advancing climate action and social justice. Fast Company named Perkins&Will one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in Architecture three times, and in 2021, it added the firm to its list of Brands That Matter—making Perkins&Will the only architecture practice in the world to earn the distinction. With an international team of more than 2,000 professionals, the firm has over 20 studios worldwide, providing integrated services in architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture. Industry rankings consistently place the firm among the world’s top design practices. Partners include Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen; retail strategy and design consultancy Portland; sustainable transportation planning consultancy Nelson\Nygaard; and luxury hospitality design firm Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR). For more information, visit

About Indspire:
Indspire is an Indigenous national charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people for the long-term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada. With the support of its funding partners, Indspire provides financial awards, delivers programs, and shares resources so that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students will achieve their highest potential. In 2021-2022, Indspire provided more than $23 million through 6,612 bursaries and scholarships to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students across Canada.