Niitsitapi Early Learning Center


The aim of the Niitsitapi Early Learning Center is to provide a wraparound approach to learning. The center is a place for the urban Indigenous community to share and celebrate culture and languages. Five major engagements were held, in addition to a number of one-on-one interviews with Elders and leaders from the Indigenous community. Eleven distinct tribal groups are represented in the design as well as honoring the local territorial ancestors (Blackfoot), and honoring Inuit and Metis culture. The school’s entry feature includes an Indigenous language greeting wall, with a ‘hello’ or ‘welcome’ in all of Canada’s surviving languages. Early in the design process, the TAW team was provided a critical learning document called ‘Key Attributes of Aboriginal Learning’ which, alongside the learning from the engagement, formed the basis of the design: holistic, lifelong, intergenerational, experiential, rooted in language and culture, spiritually oriented, a communal activity, and an integration of Indigenous and Western knowledge.



Stage of Completion

Built (2017)


Calgary, Alberta, Canada


49,904 sq.ft. 4,637 m2


Alberta Infrastructure & Calgary Board of Education

Architect of Record

BeckVale Architects

Indigenous Consultant

Wanda Dalla Costa

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