Saturday, July 20, 2019

Architect with career in Nunavut gets honorary degree from OCAD university

Arctic architect

Harriet Burdett-Moulton, 69, has designed more than 200 buildings in Nunavut during her career as architect and now she is being recognized for her work.

This summer she received an honorary degree from OCAD university in Toronto and earlier this year she was made a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

She moved to what was then Frobisher Bay, N.W.T., on a two-year government contract in February 1980. She and her husband then started the first architecture firm in the eastern Arctic, where they practiced for nine years before selling.

In total, Burdett-Moulton was based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, for 23 years. She continues to work on Nunavut-based projects with Stantec, from her home in Dartmouth, N.S.

Her first project in Nunavut was the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum in Iqaluit. The team renovated and moved a Hudson Bay Company building from Apex to Iqaluit, via a track through the mud in the bay they made during an especially low tide.

Born in Cartwright, Labrador, Burdett-Moulton is Métis with Inuit roots. She lived a traditional nomadic life as a child, moving between three houses with the changing seasons. Neither of her parents attended school beyond grade three.

“They valued education very highly because they realized it was the only way to survive in a modern world,” Burdett-Moulton said.

She says that’s why she was so pleased to receive the honorary degree. Her first degree was in education and she taught for two years, before meeting a group of architect students burning their models at the end of term in the studio.

She enrolled in architecture school a few weeks later and graduated in 1976, soon after she moved North.

“I understood the body language of the people, I understood the climate, I understood where they were coming from in their attitudes and thoughts.”

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