For those willing to travel by a different route - indigenous art and placemaking installations

Project Background

We want to “weave Indigenous knowledge cultures and traditions into the fabric of our University,” by making “First Nations, Metis and Inuit arts, cultures and languages more visible throughout our campuses” (Taking Our Place, the U of M’s Strategic Plan, 2015-2020).

Cyclical Motion: Indigenous Art and Placemaking was undertaken by the Campus Planning Office with support from the University’s Indigenous Initiatives Fund.

The project engaged a team of Winnipeg-based Indigenous artists to develop semi-permanent artworks, in two phases. Curated by Jenny Western, both phases were rooted in dialogue and discussion with Indigenous staff, students and Elders, and collaborating with the Campus Planning Office and Physical Plant.

In summer and fall of 2018, artists Ian August, Jaimie Isaac, and Niki Little created thematic signs that were installed on Fort Garry campus, affixed to large rocks and to the concrete retaining wall around the circle lawn on Curry Place.

The signs build on phase one of the project, a mural on the UMCycle Bike Kiosk structure painted by Indigenous artists Dee Barsy and Kenneth Lavallee. The mural was completed in spring 2018.

Expanding on the mural’s themes of transportation, movement, land and water, the signs radiate out from the kiosk and explore a wide range of themes, such as connections to land and water, Indigenous student experiences at university, language reclamation and reconciliation, and Indigenous advocacy and activism.

Campus Planning Context

The project aligns with the Visionary (re)Generation Master Plan for the Fort Garry campus, which outlines a framework for a new network of nodes and places that highlights Indigenous perspectives and cultures, giving new significance to the campus’s public spaces. The Migizii Agamik area is the network’s centre; from there, it will span the length of campus along Curry Place, with nodes in the Quad area and at points along the river. The sites chosen for the Indigenous Art and Placemaking project correspond to this network.

Indigenous Planning and Design Principles

The University of Manitoba has overarching Indigenous Planning and Design Principles to help guide planning and design on all University lands and campuses. The principles are:

  • Commit to Relationships and Listening
  • Demonstrate Culturally Relevant Design
  • Respect Mother Earth
  • Foster a Sense of Belonging and Community
  • Embrace a ‘Seven Generations’ View

The project embodies several of the principles using art and design. It is intended to create a sense of place that reflects the pre-colonial legacy of the land and is rooted in the Indigenous cultures of the area, recognizing Indigenous contributions.

The project also aims to foster belonging and community by contributing to a public environment in which Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and visitors can see themselves.

From inception and design to completion, the project’s confirms the importance of collaboration and relationship-building, seeking and including Indigenous perspectives in the campus’s public spaces.