Art installations and community spaces celebrate indigenous culture, promote awareness and understanding.
The Winnipeg Foundation recognizes the integral role truth and reconciliation plays in our collective journey forward. As we work to help ensure an equitable future for all, it is paramount we educate ourselves about our history and make space for all voices.
Winnipeg’s Public Arts Policy states public art “gives voice to community and builds relationships between diverse groups.” Supporting public artworks is one way The Foundation is working to realize its vision of ‘a Winnipeg where community flourishes for all.’
NIIZHOZIIBEAN (phonetic pronunciation: Nee-zho-zhi-been). This project will renovate lands running through what was formerly known as South Point at The Forks. It includes walkways and permanent interpretative signs recognizing the Indigenous history of the area. It is part of the 2.5 km pedestrian loop connecting The Forks, Esplanade Riel, the Saint Boniface Belvédère and behind St. Boniface Hospital.
NIIMAAMAA (phonetic pronunciation: nee-maa-maa) is a sculpture by Val Vint, KC Adams and Jaimie Isaac. It is located at Niizhoziibean at The Forks. Niimaamaa is a word recognized by Cree, Ojibwe, and Métis speakers as “My mother.” Niimaamaa is a stylized sculpture of a pregnant woman that represents motherhood, Mother Earth and new beginnings. The 30-foot form is made of steel, copper and metal. The Foundation recently made an additional grant to support the installation of benches in this space.
THE GATHERING SPACE, located at Niizhoziibean, provides a quiet place to meet, away from the bustle of The Forks. It features an Indigenous lodge that honours a long-standing tradition of raising temporary shelters for ceremonies that remain public and accessible between communal events. The lodge will be rebuilt every year as an event open to all. It opened in June.
CHI-KISHKAYHITAMIHK SI TE LI NEU BIIZON (Education is the New Bison) by artist Val Vint opened in June 2020. It is a 12-foot bison constructed out of steel replicas of books. It recognizes the importance education, truth and reconciliation play in our cultural conversation.
TANISI KEKE TOTAMAK …. KA CIS TENEME TOYAK (phonetic pronunciation: tan-i-si ke-ke to-ta-mak ka cis teen-ne-me tōyak), is a sculpture by KC Adams. It means What can we do, to respect each other and it examines reconciliation by highlighting the opportunity for harmony between Indigenous and settler communities. It is located at the Peace Meeting Site, close to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The 11-foot-tall installation is fabricated out of steel and concrete, with internally lighted flames. A formal opening was held in August.
THE EIGHTH AND FINAL FIRE by Jaimie Isaac will be installed later this year. It recognizes the Anishinaabe prophecy that foretells the coming of settlers to Turtle Island. According to Elders, the prophecy warned of a time when humanity will come to a crossroads. Having respect and the will to make significant change for all peoples, plants and beings co-habitating, the seventh fire will lignite the eighth and final fire; the eternal fire of peace, love and survival. The installation will be located at the MMIWG monument, close to the Oodena Celebration Circle.
This story is featured in the Fall 2021 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.