Wellness, community and diversity

Indigenous cultures and Acadian heritage, as well as wellness and greening, will be part of the Pension Centre Revitalization Project in Shediac, New Brunswick.

The essence of the Government of Canada Pension Centre Revitalization Project

Revitalizing a government building may sound primarily like a construction matter. However, when the focus is on employee wellness, community engagement and cultural diversity, the project takes on a whole new meaning.

Workplace wellness has become a priority for a growing number of employees, managers and employers. The federal government is no exception. The team responsible for the Pension Centre Revitalization Project is putting every effort into making the exterior environment as pleasant as possible, while also focusing on greening.

Two sidewalks surrounding a tree in front of a red brick building

Located in Shediac, New Brunswick, the Government of Canada Pension Centre's exterior landscape will be gradually changed throughout the course of the project. The Pension Centre is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and revitalization of the site has been largely untouched since 1982. The objective is to improve the harmony between the building, the natural environment, the history of the town of Shediac, the Indigenous and Acadian heritages, and the use of clean energy. The project is expected to be complete by August 2022.

Honouring Indigenous and Acadian cultures

The city name of Shediac has Mi’kmaq origins and means “running far in.” It reflects the essence of Shediac’s rich land-based histories and deeply rooted connection to the natural bodies of water in the area.

Construction of a curved concrete wall facing a red brick building

The inspiration came from discussions with Elder Gloria Augustine of the Elsipogtog First Nation. Her idea was to bring water into the landscape. In many Indigenous cultures, the sounds and sights of water can have calming and healing effects. So, to recall these elements, a design of waves and curves around the building was chosen.

Elder Augustine suggested exploring the healing potential by incorporating a wellness garden. Wellness, healing and symbiosis between people and nature are central ideas in Indigenous teachings. In Mi’kmaq culture, the garden is a place for peace and healing. At the Pension Centre’s wellness garden, traditional medicines will be cultivated and protected, like sage for cleansing, sweetgrass for prayer and cedar for curing.

The concept was designed with some flexibility, to ensure that spaces can be used in different ways and by different groups, whether by employees or members of the general public. The outdoor spaces will be designed to enhance the benefits of nature, and bring a sense of mental balance, wellness and collaboration. A traditional prayer etched in a runnel along Weldon Street will call for visitors to engage all 5 senses when visiting the garden, while meeting and gathering with friends and colleagues, or reflecting in quiet contemplation.

May my hands respect the many beautiful things you have made.
My ears be sharp to hear your voice,
May I always walk in your beauty,
And let my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunsets.
– Excerpt from a traditional prayer

Low curved concrete wall on clay bordering a red brick building

When Acadian peoples arrived, they established an agricultural industry marking the terrain with linear plots of land, oriented toward the waterways. While the curved elements around the building and the presence of medicinal plants celebrate the Indigenous culture, the straight lines and the planting of certain tree species are a tribute to the Acadian culture.

Interpretive panels will provide visitors and employees with an explanation of the connections between Indigenous culture and heritage design influences, Acadian history, the connection to the harbour and the site’s green initiatives.

From water to solar energy

With the focus on the benefits of being surrounded by nature, it was only natural to incorporate renewable energy as an option to power the Pension Centre.

With its commitment to reduce the building’s carbon footprint, Public Services and Procurement Canada has partnered with NB Power, through funding from Natural Resources Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, to participate in a community-based initiative that will help the Pension Centre, among others, achieve net-zero energy usage. Earlier this year, the installation of a 75-kilowatt solar array and a 400-kilowatt-hour battery storage unit was completed and connected to the community solar farm, helping the Pension Centre achieve this goal.

The Pension Centre is the largest employer in Shediac, with more than 900 employees. To learn more about the project and the collaboration with NB Power, visit NB Power Government of Canada Pension Centre.

Date modified: