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Nisga’a architect has unique PHd dissertation

Patrick Stewart, PHd.

Dr. Patrick Stewart, PhD, MArch, Architect AIBC, LEED AP.

Doctoral dissertations tend to be long-winded texts filled with academic jargon.

But that’s not the case for Patrick Stewart’s dissertation.

Stewart is a Nisga’a architect who just defended his doctoral dissertation at the University of British Columbia.

His dissertation was written in a method that reflects his cultural background and First Nations oral traditions.

The dissertation looks into how aboriginal architects use traditional knowledge in their design process, a topic which he’s very familiar with.

A page from Patrick Stewart's dissertation.

A page from Patrick Stewart’s dissertation.

Stewart designed the Gingolx Hall as well as the Aboriginal Children’s Hall in Vancouver.

Using an unconventional method to deliver a dissertation in academia raised eyebrows, and Stewart faced resistance from some quarters.

He says he got the idea for his dissertation when people told him his writing style invoked images of him speaking, but he also uses it as a way of decolonizing the language and writing.

Stewart felt vindicated when professor Charles Menzies, a First Nations professor on the examination committee, complimented his writing and style.

Stewart had a difficult childhood, telling a local newspaper at the opening of the children’s home he designed, that he went to eight different schools in 12 years when growing up.

But he has come a long way and tells the younger generation to persevere and be proud of their culture.

He says he’s look into publishing his dissertation as a book, chapters of which have already been accepted for publication.

He says he has a few projects on the books, as well as his continuing architectural practise.

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