Allan Teramura, an Ottawa architect advocating for healthy and sustainable Aboriginal communities, was formally invested as the 77th president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada at a ceremony on Jan. 15. About 120 guests attended the investiture ceremony at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa.
Award-winning Canadian author Joseph Boyden delivered the keynote address. Guests included RAIC members, the RAIC board of directors and representatives from Parliament Hill, government departments and First Nations communities.
"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," he said.
"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." Teramura has said in interviews that he sees similarities between the living conditions on reserves to the internment camps where Japanese-Canadians, including his grandparents and parents, were forcibly placed during the Second World War.
"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."
Teramura received the President's Medal from the 2015 president Samuel Oghale Oboh, of Edmonton at the ceremony.
During his tenure, Oboh was instrumental in the signing of agreements between the RAIC and several international architectural associations, as well as many of the Canadian architectural regulatory bodies.
He also represented Canada at the COP21 Conference in Paris. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Teramura studied at the University of Manitoba where he earned a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and received the University Gold Medal.
His recent projects include the restoration of the Tropical Greenhouse at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa, conservation work at the Amherst and Halifax armouries, ongoing work on the Centre Block on Parliament Hill and various strategic planning studies in the Parliamentary Precinct.