Reanna Merasty has an impressive resume under her belt. From Barren Lands First Nation, but grew up mostly in Brandon, Manitoba, she is working in the field of architecture and design. Merasty holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design and is working on her Masters of Architecture at the University of Manitoba.
Not only this, but she works as a student intern and designer at Brook McIlroy in their Indigenous design studio and as a research assistant on several housing projects. Though what exposed her to the world of architecture weren’t some fancy buildings or famous historical figures, but her grandfather who she helped with log cabin building.
“The process of construction and log building and all these other little things that he would get me to do, like stripping the bark, all went into my mind and then led me into getting into woodworking and a drafting program in high school.”
Her high school class led her to wanting to be a carpenter at first, but eventually decided into looking at buildings and “wanting to go for something bigger.”
But the journey towards her success hasn’t always been an easy one. Since around high school, Merasty says she lacked self-confidence, didn’t feel like she “belonged anywhere” and “didn’t feel confident in being Native.”
“The one thing that really helped me was being around and meeting other people that have experienced the same things that I did.”
Re-connecting with her culture has been a huge help for her as well, and finding those resources in the city has helped her for the past few years. Merasty’s mental health is still something she keeps in check and uses health and fitness as something that keeps her grounded.
Today, she would tell her former, insecure self to speak about it [feelings] and not to “keep everything to yourself.”
“That’s one thing that I used to do all the time. I didn’t, I wasn’t taught to speak out. I wasn’t taught to speak about my feelings,” says Merasty.
“I feel like that’s something that a lot of our youth should be doing and not keeping to themselves because I feel like that’s really harmful in the long run.”
And for students heading into post-secondary, her advice is to utilize every single resource offered.
“There’s so many people that you can connect with that have experienced the same thing that you have.”
Special thanks to Jasmine Kabatay for authoring this blog post.
November 2022 Updates: Reanna completed her Master of Architecture in 2021 and is currently an Architectural Intern at Number Ten Architectural Group. She is an artist, writer, and advocate for Indigenous inclusion and representation in design education. Her work continues to amplify Indigenous voices, communities, and land-based pedagogies in architecture. She is a member of the Climate Action Plan Steering Committee and Indigenous Task Force with the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada, Chair of the Welcoming Winnipeg Committee with the City of Winnipeg, and a member of the design advocacy organization, Storefront Manitoba.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.