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Through Indigenous Placemaking, the Library welcomes Indigenous artists from or connected to the diverse nations and communities within Treaty 7 territory to create permanent artwork installations for Library locations.
The creation of these works inspires collaboration among artists of all disciplines, backgrounds, and experience levels. Having these pieces in the Library helps create an inclusive space for sharing and gathering of all Nations and communities within the Treaty 7 area, to learn and grow together.
These four works are part of a third round of Indigenous Placemaking and were permanently installed in June 2021. Read more about the art and artists here and, if you have the opportunity, view them in person at Crowfoot, Seton, Shawnessy, and Saddletowne libraries.
Indigenous Placemaking is supported by the Suncor Energy Foundation.
In si’káániksi~blankets, seven large panels (3” x 5”) resemble blankets of various geometric designs, thematic colours, and symbols of nature. In contemporary Blackfoot culture, blankets are often gifted as gestures of gratitude, comfort, and protection. These seven blanket panels were designed to celebrate and honour the Indigenous communities within the Treaty 7 area.
si’káániksi~blankets was created during the COVID-19 pandemic and began to take on other meanings for the artist. During the onset of colonization, Blackfoot nations survived the smallpox disease as it claimed thousands of lives. The Blackfoot continue to be a strong and spiritual people, who continue to thrive, particularly through education. Public libraries serve to provide a place for all people to gather, access knowledge, and engage in meaningful learning.
Where to see si’káániksi~blankets: Saddletowne Library
Hali Heavy Shield, Nato’yi’kina’soyi (Holy Light that Shines Bright)
Nato’yi’kina’soyi (Holy Light that Shines Bright) / Hali Heavy Shield is a multidisciplinary artist and educator and is a member of the Blood Tribe (Kainai) of southern Alberta. Hali’s work is influenced by experiences in her home community, including Blackfoot stories, significant sites, family, and women as sources of strength and goodness. She often uses vibrant colours, text, and symbolism to braid contemporary and traditional Indigenous realities with imagined futurisms. Hali is also a literacy activist who works to engage others in generative discussion and practices of reconciliation and creativity.
Sarah Houle is a Métis performer and multidisciplinary artist based in Calgary, originally from the Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement in northern Alberta. Her song writing and visual artwork stem from personal experiences that are filtered through her interest in technology, fantasy, and craft. Cultural identity in the age of digital technology is a constant exploration in her art practice.
For this Placemaking project, she honours the story of her great-grandparents by using ceramic printing on glass. Floral motifs take the place of their features to represent the Métis as “the flower beadwork people.”
An online slideshow of digital art and photographs outlines their story with an accompanying soundtrack by Cîpayak ᒌᐸᕀ.. This artwork reflects on the journey of her ancestors and parallels Houle’s own story of setting down roots in Calgary, Mohkinstsis, with its existing rich Métis history.
An excerpt from an article written by Emilie Houle, published in the Athabasca newspaper:
“Louis Houle was a young man and about the best violin player in town. He played at all the dances. That is where I used to see him. I never really met him. He said to someone, ‘There's the girl I'm going to marry.’ Louis was a trapper and Emilie the mother of eight children.”
Where to see the installation: Seton Library
Sarah Houle is a multidisciplinary Métis artist based in Calgary, Mohkinstsis. She is from the Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement in Northern Alberta. Her work is autobiographical with an interest in technology, fantasy, and craft. Cultural identity in the age of digital technology is important in her work, as elements of physical and digital space come together to conjure nostalgic imagery. Modern day fantastical legends express the artist’s social commentary on identity from the perspective of Métis culture and heritage. Centering on family, Houle’s work showcases the resiliency present in everyday Indigenous life.ildren.
Throughout the Americas, the "Trickster" character appears in some form within every culture. Trickster stories are an integral component to Indigenous cultures as they teach us about right and wrong in life. They are full of adventure, humour, wisdom, foolishness, generosity, and greed, and always end in a lesson being learned.
The Trickster comes in many forms: for the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot), he is a man; for the Tsuut'ina, he appears as either a coyote or raven; for the Îyarhe Nakoda (Stoney Nakoda), he is a spider; and for the Nêhiyawak (Plains Cree) and Métis, he is a rabbit. Within Siksikaitsitapi understanding of the Trickster, he is the creator of the landscapes within our territory.
His stories give us knowledge of how to live off the land in a way that secures continuity of our sacred medicines and food sources. Trickster Tales seeks to empower the Treaty 7 community through highlighting Indigenous storytelling as an essential element to understanding Indigenous ways of knowing.
The mural will be accompanied by a resource site and a short documentary that highlights the importance of sharing Trickster tales to ensure the continued transmission of our intergenerational knowledge through storytelling.
Where to see Trickster Tales: Crowfoot Library
Rudy Black Plume, Iitsikiitsapoyii (Standing On Top Alone)
Rudy Black Plume, Iitsikiitsapoyii (Standing On Top Alone) is an artist, elementary school teacher, and member of the Kainai Nation within the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksikaitsitapi). She holds a B.A. in Native American Studies and a B.Ed. in Native Education from the University of Lethbridge. Rudy’s art is rooted in her love for Niitsitapi culture and draws inspiration from Blackfoot ways of knowing. Her art practice is reflective of her experiences as a Blackfoot person living in a world that lacks representation of Indigenous stories and worldviews. Black Plume understands that representation is crucial to our lived experiences, as it helps to shape how we envision ourselves and how we are perceived by others. She believes art and creativity can broaden perspectives, bring people together, and heal our spirits. Rudy hopes that her work helps Indigenous Peoples to feel validated in their existence and inspires all peoples to continue to learn more about Indigenous cultures, histories, and ways of knowing.
The Beginning is a sculpture that represents the Treaty 7 creation story of Turtle Island. After consultation with Treaty 7 Elders regarding various creation stories, a team of Indigenous women were inspired to interpret that story into a layered glass sculpture.
The sculpture contains seven panels of glass that each represent the seven sacred teachings, as well as one component from the story. The animals, people, and Napi are all shown on their panels in the way they were interpreted by the artists to play a vital role in the creation of Turtle Island and the sacred land of Indigenous people.
The sculpture itself is composed of tempered, sandblasted glass which has been set into rough cut cedar.
Many Indigenous people utilize cedar as a sacred medicine, and it is viewed as a way to cleanse and bless areas, which is why it was used in this piece. The glass ensures that the sculpture filters the natural light in the space and interacts with the space in which it exists. The intention is to view an Indigenous story while seeing the books and stories surrounding it. It represents the ways we all can share our voice in unity and cohesion, without obscuring one another.
Although the story is widely published, we were given permission to share the artwork from the creation story but not the story itself. Those interested are encouraged to reach out to local Elders to find out more about how Indigenous people tell their creation stories.
Where to see The Beginning: Shawnessy Library
The Library worked with the following artists through the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) to create this installation. USAY has been an influential not-for profit organization in Calgary since 2001 and strives to provide essential programming and services to Calgary’s Indigenous youth between the ages of 12 and 29.
Kierra First Charger
Kierra First Charger (she/her) is 15 years old and from the Blood, Peigan, and Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw tribes. Kierra currently reside in Calgary with her parents and three older siblings. Her art form is sketching, using both traditional pencil and paper and digital art forms such as Procreate, which she prefers. She enjoys sketching various anime styles and her goal is to enroll in an art school after graduating from high school.
Morrigan Caldwell is 18 years old from the Secwepemc First Nation, but resides in Calgary, Alberta. Morrigan primarily works in multi-media painting and digital artforms. She enjoys creating artwork because it is a stress reliever, and it is satisfying to create a finished project. A recent graduate from high school, Morrigan is looking to start culinary school in the coming months.
Kaylee Anne Leibham
Kaylee Anne Leibham enjoys skiing, drawing, and cooking. Born in Calgary Alberta, her ethnicity is Cree. Her grandmother is originally from Peace Point Treaty 8 and was adopted into a family in Beaver Lake Cree Nation. Kaylee’s father was born in Edmonton and has status under Beaver Lake Cree Nation. Her mother is from the United Kingdom, so Kaylee is half Cree and half English. Kaylee is excited to be a part of this fun and connecting project for the Library.
Tace Ens-Buchacher is 17 years old from Waterhen Lake First Nation and Canoe Lake Cree Nation, and currently resides in Calgary, Alberta. Currently, Tace is at Central Memorial High School completing Grade 12. She enjoys drawing and painting on canvas. She creates art because she likes the ability to convey feelings and thoughts visually without having to communicate them verbally. In the future, Tace hopes to become an ophthalmologist so she can help people who need to see.
Haley Long is 17 years old and lives in the City of Calgary, originally from Treaty 7’s Piikani First Nation. Haley is currently enrolled in school, completing Grade 12. Haley enjoys bucket art because it allows her to tell different and unique stories. In the future, Haley wants to be in child and youth care or be an elementary school teacher.