Six Indigenous artists — all from or with a connection to Treaty 7 — have contributed art for three spaces within the new Central Library.
Starting on the main floor, a colourful and vast wall mural by Keegan Starlight, Kalum Teke Dan, and Roland Rollinmud greets visitors. Inside the civic concourse, metal letters spell out various words in Indigenous languages, forming the shape of a buffalo created by Lionel Peyachew. On Level 4, Glenna Cardinal has created a stunning table and furniture for the Elders’ Guidance Circle, accompanied by a large photo and text-based piece by Brittney Bear Hat.
The Indigenous Public Art plan for new Central Library is based on the belief that art enhances and helps communicate a community’s story. It is a road map for how local artists can enhance new Central Library’s public spaces, architecture, and landscapes.
A commitment to equity and inclusiveness are woven into the benefits of Indigenous Placemaking at new Central Library. Educational equity between Treaty 7 Nations, Métis Nation Region 3, and the urban community of Calgary should help make connections to the land through bridging the gap. All the Nations involved in these projects and processes are different in history and culture — it is important that we recognize and highlight these differences.
Through the Indigenous Placemaking, Calgary Public Library hopes to make new Central Library a place for sharing and gathering and to develop artwork that will promote an understanding of the history of the Treaty 7 lands past and present from the Indigenous perspective.
In January 2018, members of the Indigenous Place Making Council of Canada and Library staff visited the Stoney Nation, Siksika Nation, Tsuut’ina Nation, Métis Nation of Alberta, and the Aboriginal Friendship Centre. These meetings were advertised with an open invitation to receive input and guidance on the placemaking process. From these meetings the communities advised the Library that artwork should be collaborative pieces that include the vast cultures and communities in Treaty 7 territory.
The main objectives for the Library Indigenous Placemaking Commissions are:
- To develop artworks that will promote an educational understanding of the TsuuT’ina Nation, the Blackfoot Nations, Stoney Nations, and Métis Nation Region 3’s history, both past, present, and future using visual and oral storytelling;
- To create a safe and inclusive place for sharing and gathering of all Nations and communities within the Treaty 7 area;
- Promote collaboration amongst artists of all disciplines, backgrounds, and stages of careers.