Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 59.07
Liaison Erin Akins
Submission Date March 5, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Saskatchewan
IN-26: Innovation C

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Erin Akins
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
The Muskrat Hut

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

For First Nations communities in northern Canada and other remote regions, access to safe and clean water, toilets, and food preparation areas presents a serious challenge to communal gatherings. For Elders, women, youth, and gender-diverse community members, this often means they simply do not participate in community events. Chemical porta-potties and rental shower units can be expensive, environmentally hazardous, and unavailable in northern regions.

The Muskrat Hut is the result of a project between the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and the Univserity of Saskatchewan. The Muskrat Hut is a proto-type, a small mobile building that houses a bathroom, a shower, toilet and a kitchen.

This project, lead by University of Saskatchewan professor Alex Wilson, is designed to help alleviate the Indigenous housing crisis in Northern Canada by creating a solution from within the Indigenous community. The larger goal of the Muskrat Hut project is to support community and cultural events, and ultimately address systemic issues of access to water and housing, with solutions from within Indigenous communities.

A central tenet of the project was to prioritize local resources and Indigenous knowledge. For example, a design workshop had elders and community members share their ideas about what was important to them around the design and build of the hut. They have incorporated Indigenous knowledge and connection to the land like what types of materials to use.

The hut was designed to be a sustainable, locally sourced four-season prototype unit that comprises a composting toilet, shower/sauna, heat source, energy source (solar and wind), and a kitchen area. An effort was made to avoid importing things from other territories and people and First Nation people are helping build it themselves.

For Architecture student Mario Neto and environmental engineering student Debora Boratto, two student interns, this project has been a truly immersive experience. One of the students staying on Opaskwayak Cree Nation where the prototype hut is being built and is learning Cree language from community Elders.

Both students have taken quite different aspects of the project on, and their internships have been tailored to suit their academic specialties. Boratto has been concentrating on the water filtration system of the Muskrat Hut so that the water is potable, while Neto has created computer generated renderings of the hut.

Construction of the Muskrat Hut proto-type was completed in September 2019.


Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Curriculum
Diversity & Affordability

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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