Indigenous design UNCEDED, led by renowned Architect Douglas Cardinal, will represent Canada at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

September 19, 2017

Ottawa, September 19, 2017 – The Canada Council for the Arts announced today that the Indigenous design project UNCEDED has been selected through a national juried competition to represent Canada at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Doubling its previous investment to enhance international exposure, the Canada Council will make a contribution of $500,000 towards the presenter’s exhibition.

The exhibition is led by internationally renowned architect, philosopher, human rights activist, Officer of the Order of Canada and “World Master of Contemporary Architecture,” Douglas Cardinal, along with Anishnawbe Elders and Indigenous Co-curators:

  • Gerald McMaster, curator, author, and professor of Indigenous Visual Culture and Critical Curatorial Studies at OCAD University (Toronto, ON)
  • David Fortin, architect, Incoming Director of the McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University and member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Indigenous Task Force (Sudbury, ON).

Joining them is a decorated group of Indigenous architects from across North America, including Patrick Stewart, Chairman of the Indigenous Task Force, Associate Professor at the McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University and the first person of First Nations ancestry elected as President of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia.

Canadian Presenter Douglas Cardinal with Co-Curators David Fortin and Gerald McMaster
Canadian Presenter Douglas Cardinal with Co-Curators David Fortin and Gerald McMaster Photo: Courtesy of Douglas Cardinal Architect Inc.

About the project:

UNCEDED will emphasize and celebrate the work of Indigenous architects and designers throughout Turtle Island. It is grounded in the legacy of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report.

  • UNCEDED will be on view at the Arsenale in Venice from May 26th to November 25th, 2018.
  • Further details about the exhibition design will be unveiled leading up to the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Members of the 2018 peer-assessment committee:

  • John Shnier- founding partner, Kohn Shnier Architects and Associate Professor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture Landscape and Design at The University of Toronto (Toronto, ON).
  • Lola Sheppard- founding partner, Lateral Office and Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo (Toronto, ON).
  • Nancy Marie Mithlo, Ph.D. - Sabbatical leave 2017/18: Visiting Scholar, University of California Los Angeles Institute of American Cultures, American Indian Studies Center, George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellow, Brown University, Getty Research Institute Guest Researcher, Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Arts, Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA).
  • Eduardo Aquino- Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB).

Along with the winning project, the proposals from the following firms made the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale shortlist:


“I am honoured to accept this opportunity to show the true beauty and value of Indigenous Peoples, representing Canada at this most important and prestigious international architectural event.

The soaring eagle, facing east to the Rising Sun, is the symbol of our connection to all of Creation where we approach all life, particularly our fellow human beings, with loving and caring. Like the Thunderbird, we are as “the Phoenix Arising out of the Ashes,” a people of resilience and beauty, despite the past degradations seeking to eliminate us.

I am honoured to accept this opportunity to show the true beauty and value of Indigenous Peoples

We are a spiritual people, at one with Creation, living in balance and harmony with Nature. It is timely that indigenous architects from Turtle Island be given the opportunity to express their unique contributions to an expanding worldview.”

– Douglas Cardinal, Presenter, UNCEDED

“Having represented Canada as curator to the 1995 Venice Biennale of Visual Arts, to be asked to be lead curator by such a distinguished group of Indigenous architects is both an honour and privilege."

-Gerald McMaster, Co-Curator, UNCEDED

“There has been a lot of interest in Indigenous topics in Canada following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What is unique about UNCEDED is that it celebrates the role of Indigenous architects and designers in leading this discussion and we are honored that the importance of the Indigenous voice has been acknowledged.”

-David Fortin, Co-Curator, UNCEDED

“The Canada Council for the Arts is honored to once again support Canadian participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale. UNCEDED reflects on our country’s need for reconciliation. It forces us to question the neutrality of our built environments and the land where they rest. It invites us to understand the deep history held within the land, its inextricable link to identity and culture, and how it can sustain us into the future.”

– Simon Brault, Director & CEO, Canada Council for the Arts

About Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s national public arts funder. We champion and invest in artistic excellence so that Canadians may enjoy and participate in a rich cultural life. In 2016-17 we allocated $196.8 million dollars towards artistic creation and innovation through our grants, prizes and payments. We also conduct research, convene activities and work with partners to advance the sector and help embed the arts more deeply in communities across the country. We are responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO to contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable future for Canadians. The Canada Council Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts.

About the Venice Architecture Biennale

In its 16th edition since 1980, the Venice Architecture Biennale is the most important and prestigious exhibition in contemporary architecture.  Two historical locations, the Giardini and the Arsenale, will host the international curated exhibitions. In addition over 70 national representations will be showcased in these locations and around the city.  A meeting place for architects, artists, designers, planners, builders, politicians, students, teachers and cultural leaders, the 2018 edition expects more than 300,000 visitors to experience the cutting edge of architecture and architectural discourse.  


Media Contact

For more information about the Canada Council for the Arts:

Ashley Tardif-Bennett

Communications Advisor


Cell: 343-998-2625

For more information about UNCEDED:

Poet Farrell

Director of Sponsorship and Fundraising