On January 15, 2015, Allan Teramura, FRAIC, was named the 77th President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). The Ottawa architect is a principal at Watson MacEwen Teramura Architects, and has advocated for healthier, sustainable Aboriginal communities in Canada.
At his investiture ceremony at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa, 120 guests – including RAIC members, the RAIC board of directors, and representatives from Parliament Hill, government departments and First Nations communities – heard Teramura’s speech on the importance of his advocacy for the Aboriginal communities of Canada.
“As architects, I think we would all agree that losing traditional building crafts and knowledge of ways of organizing physical space can be as corrosive to a society as the loss of a spoken language,” Teramura said in his investiture speech. “The built environment in Indigenous communities tends to be discussed in terms of housing issues, but in my view the problem is compounded by the absence of cultural identity, and this is seldom discussed.”
Teramura explained that he sees similarities between the living conditions on reserves and the internment camps where Japanese-Canadians, including his grandparents and parents, were forcibly placed during the Second World War.
“At a time when talk of reconciliation is growing, our profession is in a position to – and, therefore, is obligated to – look at ways to help address injustices, not by imposing our ideas, but by listening and promoting the professional competencies that already exist in Indigenous communities,” he said. “They are a technological solution for housing, not intended to be permanent. You realize you’re dealing with something that is not a normal community, but a camp. A camp is a settlement with no future by definition.”