An Inuk student at the University of Manitoba is getting set to graduate with a masters in architecture and set off to take on her own projects.
At the same time, Nicole Luke may be the first Inuk to complete an architecture program in Canada.
“I’m not trying to be the first. I just know there’s not many,” Luke, 24, told APTN News.
“I know… some who are pursuing architecture in post-secondary but I haven’t met an Inuk architect yet.”
For Luke, it’s important to recognize Inuit were the original architects in their communities.
Luke was born in Yellowknife, N.W.T. and moved to Manitoba with her family when she was a young girl.
Her family is from Chesterfield Inlet and the Kivalliq Region in Nunavut.
Her path to architecture started in high school with her love of art classes. She found a way to combine her passion for drawing with other interests.
“I just thought that in between science, technology, art, architecture is right in the centre. Best of both worlds,” said Luke.
Throughout her education Luke has taken part in a few different eye-opening experiences including travels to Copenhagen, Italy and Mexico City.
While she said it’s hard to pick a favourite, the one closest to home makes the top of her list.
Luke was the exhibition designer for the INUA exhibit at Qaumajuq, the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre.
Luke called the experience inspiring.
“I’m still thankful I was a part of that process and I know I’ll be looking back 10 to 20 years from now saying, ‘oh, I helped with that project.’
“I’ll definitely remember the team I was working with.”
Luke worked with the all Inuit curatorial team to help develop the first exhibit for the centre, which opened its doors in March after years of development and construction.
Luke was tasked with drawing the designs for all the construction that would go inside the exhibition as well as helping place the pieces in the space.
“It’s definitely a space that’s well designed for Inuit and allows opportunity. It’s a platform for Inuit to really show their voice so I think that’s a really great outcome of it,” said Luke
Luke hopes to start working with an architecture firm in the fall.
She has to gain two years of work experience before she can become a registered architect with the Manitoba Association of Architects.
After that she has goals of working and helping with infrastructure development in the Arctic.
“I think it’s really important to be aware of how much the northern communities will be more globalized and I think that Inuit should be more involved in that type of development as well because they are so knowledgeable about the land,” said Luke.
With limited post-secondary options in the north, Luke knows this can be a barrier to getting Inuit into certain job fields.
She hopes to one day see an altered architectural stream for people living in the Arctic to see more Inuit pursue work in the industry.
But, with the work she’s done Luke is on her way to forging a new path.