Exterior in Winter

our lady of the snows

client: Sheshatshiu Innu First Nations

location: Sheshatshiu, Labrador

use: religious

scale: 4,500 ft2

twenty+change award winner

IDES Vancouver 2018 exhibition

Sheshatshiu is an Innu First Nations community in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador located on Lake Melville. Having outgrown the existing Catholic Church, the community required a new building to accommodate a larger attendance.


The design of the Church includes two types of gathering spaces. The first is for large, less frequent events like weddings, funerals, and baptisms. The second space is for small, regular gatherings of the parish. The community wished to have a non-hierarchical circular space for smaller gatherings incorporated into the more traditional hierarchical forms of a Catholic Church. The design locates this round gathering space where the altar would be located in a traditional Church.


The design of the Church includes a large outdoor space where the community can gather before entering the building. The Church is oriented so that the bell tower faces toward Lake Melville to provide opportunity for outdoor activities to spill from inside the Church into the surrounding landscape.

The exterior and interior of the Church are constructed and finished with materials that can be easily located and installed in this remote region. Wood is used throughout the building's structure, and exterior and interior finishes. In addition to the building's wood framing, cladding, and finishes, wood is also used in the design and fabrication of the sculptures within the Church. The sculptures and other decorative elements are designed and modeled in studio using digital fabrication.


© 2017 Woodford Sheppard Architecture Ltd.