Resiliency in remote communities: How to listen when your ears are frozen.


Jeffrey Moroz
Stantec Architecture Ltd.

Dora Batista
Stantec Architecture Ltd.


1 Learning Units/Health, Safety, Welfare (LU/HSW)

How applies to HSW:

1. Explores how building and site design needs to respond to unique social, physical, safety and security realities in harsh climatic environments. 2. Explores how communications techniques and tools during the design process should adapt to the participants. 3. Describes how climate, seasons, topography and soils have affected the design and construction decisions in isolated communities. 4. Explains how energy modeling, local energy-codes, BIM technology and site-responsive design informed the building envelope, orientation and building performance criteria. 5. Explores how social challenges, such as bullying, were key drivers informing the architectural planning.


First Nation Communities in Canada have a unique requirement to be resilient. Typically, they are physically remote yet digitally connected, challenged by social, economic, and emotional realities, and plagued by infrastructure deficits within harsh climatic and topographic conditions. Education is a critical and valued commitment to a growing young population which far exceeds the capacity of overpopulated and outdated schools.   The Manitoba Schools Initiative (MSI) is a Federal Construction Program developed to bundle the design and construction of a new school in four different, but geographically linked, First Nations communities in Northern Manitoba. These fly-in communities have winter road access for delivery of materials, fuel, and equipment limited to a 6-8 week period on temporary ice-roads in the heart of Winter. Temperatures can range from 30 C in Summer to -30 C in Winter, and topographic and soil conditions affect design and maintenance protocols depending on the season. In these remote communities, resiliency means survival, and the building of a new school can become a catalyst for regeneration. The presentation will explore how the multi-disciplinary design team engaged with four unique and remote First Nation Communities with a mandate to design and agree upon on a Common Core despite diverse architectural program requirements. What we learned was how visiting these communities redefined our understanding and definition of resiliency; how important it was to listen to what was not said, as much as what was said. Communications and presentation techniques and tools were adapted and tailored to better communicate and listen, and resulted in a rewarding journey of trust, partnership and hope.

Learning Objectives:
  • Learn how the logistics of building in remote, ice-road access communities, influences design decisions;
  • Learn how listening to what is said as well as what is not, informs the design response and workshop communications techniques;
  • Learn what ‘resiliency’ means in remote, isolated First Nation Communities in Canada and how it affected the school’s planning and building envelope design; ;
  • Learn how schools in remote communities are catalysts for regeneration and serve as learning, social, and supportive hubs. communities, influences design decisions
Primary Competency:

Community Engagement:Ê Leads the internal and external communities through a discovery process that articulates and communicates a community-based foundational vision, forming the basis of a plan for the design of the learning environment. The vision is achieved through a combination of rigorous research, group facilitation, strategic conversations, qualitative and quantitative surveys and workshops. Demonstrates the skill to resolve stakeholder issues while embedding a community’s unique vision into the vision for its schools.

Primary Domain:

Context: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the circumstances that form the setting for the design and construction of specific learning environments and characteristics that distinguishes the project from other applications.

Secondary Domain:

Parameters: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the aspects and guidelines of a project often regulated or administered by other entities, organizations, and/or governing agencies.