Jason Surkan

Kîhokewin Kumik: An Elders Lodge

The Métis are a distinct group of Indigenous people with unique cultural practices, language and building traditions that differ from both their maternal (Indigenous) and paternal (European) lineages. One of the primary spatial conditions that has historically distinguished the Métis from other groups in the Canadian prairie provinces emerged from their overriding emphasis on egalitarian principles of social organization and consensus that evolved out of their Buffalo hunting culture during the 19th century. The Métis continue to build spaces across the prairie provinces that respond to each local environment in ingenious, sustainable, egalitarian, and resourceful ways.

This research will explore both historical and contemporary examples of Métis architecture to better understand ‘what is Métis architecture beyond log cabin nostalgia and visual lexicons?

This thesis will collaborate with Métis Elder and artist, Maria Campbell, on a design proposal for a space that facilitates cultural practice through a process of Kîhokewin. This includes storytelling, dreaming, art, music, language, craft, ceremony, and cultural activities at the historic site of Gabriel Dumont’s Crossing along the South Saskatchewan River. Kîhokewin Kumik will be an exploration both a Métis Vernacular and an exploration in contemporary Métis architecture that is grounded in the teachings of our Elders, miyohtwâwin (kindness), kwayaskâtisiw (honesty), nikwatisiwin (sharing), and maswakwisiwin (strength). It will braid together the past, present, and future through an architectural proposal that creates a space to strengthen kinship in the Métis Nation at Gabriel’s Crossing, a place that has always been a hub for Métis resistance and culture.


Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Jason holds a Bachelor of Architecture (B.A.S) from Carleton University. He previously studied Architecture at the University of British Columbia and is currently in his thesis year of his Masters of Architecture (M.Arch) degree at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

He is of mixed Canadian Ancestry – Métis, Scottish, Ukrainian and Polish. Jason is a member of Fish Lake Metis Local #108, and the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan. He has worked intermittently for Douglas Cardinal Architecture.. Jason is also an established photographer and has had work published in Canadian Geographic.