The University of Saskatchewan has created a community effort with the Opaskwaya Cree Nation so that a building prototype can be designed. The building is called a muskrat hut and it has utilized Indigenous modes of knowledge during its creation process. The entire project is aimed at alleviating problems within indigenous populations through the hut’s sustainable and straightforward design.
The muskrat hut contains a bathroom, shower, toilet, and kitchen. The portable cabin can be attached to the back of any car and transported to any location. Indigenous communities in Canada are faced with obstacles that prevent access to clean water and hygienic services. The muskrat hut is going to try and provide a solution to the issues that indigenous people suffer because of inaccessible resources.
Designers at the University of Saskatchewan collaborated with indigenous communities so that the same people who were receiving the hut created the design. Indigenous communities in Canada cherish their land-based learning and connections, so the muskrat hut relies on sustainable materials in its innovative design. Many indigenous elders were grateful to pass on the knowledge to younger generations through the design project. The elders created workshops that were open to non-indigenous people, which shared the ideas about natural resource use in architectural design.
The muskrat name was decided by indigenous people who wanted to honor the title, which had a connection to the pre-colonial era in Canada. Indigenous communities used the muskrat as a food, clothing, and trade source. The animal signified a source of multiple-use, so it became the perfect name for the new building design. The muskrat hut utilizes many different natural resources, which allows for the mobile home to have many uses. Indigenous communities hope that the new building may provide better opportunities toward the living conditions on reserves.