Reanna Merasty - Barren Lands First Nation
Future architect also has mind set on obtaining her PhD

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Writer

Reanna MerastyReanna Merasty is well on her way to fulfilling one of her life goals.

Merasty, a member of Barren Lands First Nation in Manitoba, has spent the past two years working as an architectural intern at Number TEN Architectural Group, an award-winning Winnipeg firm.

Besides having to take some future exams, Merasty is more than halfway past the 3,700 internship hours required before she becomes a licensed architect.

Merasty, who is now 28, had graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor of Environmental Design.

She had earned her undergraduate degree in 2019. Two years later she obtained her Master’s degree.

With her current position she frequently advocates for Indigenous inclusion and representation in design education.

There’s also a good chance Merasty will resume her academic studies, perhaps in a few years.

“I want to really pursue a PhD in the future and become a professor on the side,” she said.

Merasty added she has established a five-year goal by which point she wants to have started working towards her PhD.

“But I have to become an architect first,” said Merasty, who has also spent two summers while still in school working as an Indigenous architectural intern at Brook McIlroy, another Winnipeg-based firm.

As for the more immediate future, Merasty is now gearing up to tell her life story at this year’s Cando Conference.

She’s one of six individuals that have been chosen to be on the National Youth Panel, for the conference, which is scheduled to begin on June 26 in Membertou, N.S.

The four-day conference concludes on June 29.

The youth panelists were selected based on initiatives, accomplishments, strengths, entrepreneurial spirit and participation within their communities.

“It’s important to have young Indigenous voices and to have them be celebrated,” Merasty said. “I’m extremely proud to have an opportunity like this.”

Those eligible to be youth panelists must be between the ages of 18-30.

Besides having the opportunity to provide details of her life experiences, Merasty is also eager to hear from the other panelists from across the country.

“I think it’s incredible,” Merasty said. “A lot of times you don’t hear a lot of things going on out of province. It’s important to hear those other youth and for them to be celebrated.”

As for Merasty’s voice, she had co-founded the University of Manitoba’s Indigenous Design and Planning Student Association (IDPSA) while she was at the school.

The association in part was created to address the misrepresentation of Indigenous values and practices in Indigenous design. IDPSA was the first association of its kind in Canada to promote adding Indigenous values in design education.

Besides her current job, Merasty has plenty of other interests as well. Her side projects include furniture design, writing and artwork.

In addition to being named to Cando’s youth panel, Merasty also received recent news of another impressive accolade.

She’s one of three youth recipients this year for the Indspire Awards, annually presented to those Indigenous people across the country who excel in various categories.