Indigenous public art

Indigenous public art program

Art is the storytelling of a history. Respecting and sharing the unique, local Indigenous traditions, beliefs and practices through public art helps to share Indigenous perspectives and stories. It serves as a reminder that Indigenous people lived on this land long before Scottish settlers named it Calgary, and that every Calgarian has a role to play in acknowledging the past and working toward a brighter future. 

Of The City’s public art collection, which began growing in 1911 and now has more than 1300 pieces, less than 3% was created by Indigenous artists. To correct this disparity, we’re taking meaningful steps to improve opportunities for Indigenous artists to consult on, participate in and create public art in Calgary.

Art created by Indigenous artists


Moving toward Reconciliation as a city, province and country requires showcasing art by Indigenous artists as a way of understanding and learning about the people who have lived in this region since time immemorial.

Click on each photo to learn more about the artist and artwork.

Opportunities for Indigenous artists


Current calls for Indigenous art and artists are posted on our opportunities for artists page.  Sign up for the monthly public art newsletter and the Indigenous artist roster to be notified when more opportunities become available. You can also follow our Facebook and Instagram pages where we promote public art opportunities and uplift Indigenous artists in the Treaty 7 area. 

Indigenous arts professionals


Meet Canada’s first and only all Indigenous team of arts professionals dedicated to increasing public art opportunities for Indigenous artists.

Indigenous curators help build connections between local government, the arts community and Indigenous groups.

Jessica McMann

Jessica McMann

In summer 2020, we welcomed Jessica McMann to the public art team as an Indigenous curator.

Jessica is an Alberta-based Cree (Cowessess, SK) curator and artist (musician, dancer, visual artist). She's also a classically trained flutist with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Calgary and a Master of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University.

In addition to creating traditional beadwork and drums, she also makes immersive sound art videos. Her recent compositions and soundscapes explore Indigenous identity and history. She's co-founder and co-director of Wild Mint Arts, an Indigenous arts company.

Although her art is primarily music and dance, Jessica's artwork is exhibited at Urban Shaman Gallery and Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Her curatorial practice is embedded in Indigeneity, relationality and advocacy.

She works closely with the Moh'kinsstis Public Art Guiding Circle, public art program staff, and the Indigenous Relations Office to bring Indigenous knowledge, histories, cultures, languages, traditions, worldviews, and ways of knowing into the public art program.

Sophia Lebessis

Sophia Lebessis

In consultation with the Nunavut-based elder community, Inuit art gallery owner Sophia Lebessis is working to curate a travelling collection of sculptures, prints and textiles that both respects and reflects the rich art and culture of the Inuit people of Canada.

Sophia is Inuit on her mother's side and Greek on her father's. She grew up in Arviat, Nunavut, learning about the world of Inuit art and how to promote the works of highly collectible and influential artists.

With her keen eye for art and experience in sourcing art, from creation to distribution, Sophia has a unique approach to contributing to the future of Inuit art that focuses on education and entrepreneurship to transform appreciation for Canada's national art form.

Indigenous project managers strive to ensure Treaty 7 Nations, Metis Nation Region 3 and all Indigenous Canadians are accurately and fairly represented in the City’s public art collection.

Naatoiyiki Cheyenne McGinnis

Naatoiyiki Cheyenne McGinnis

Bio coming soon.

Henry Heavyshield

Henry Heavyshield

Bio coming soon.

Tully Huculak

Tully Huculak

Tully Huculak joined the Indigenous Public Art team in 2022 as the Engagement Strategist Manager. She is a member of the Metis Nation of Alberta and currently resides in Calgary. Tully has a Bachelor of Design from the Alberta University of the Arts, and she will complete her Master of Management at the University of Calgary in the spring of 2023.

In her practice, Tully creates designs that connect abstract concepts to succinct visuals. These mirages of ideas usually relate to Tully's relationships with the land, herself and others. Final products come in various forms, such as illustrations, logos and paintings - but no medium is off-limits to her creativity.

Ultimately, Tully's goal is to amplify the voices of others, especially Indigenous artists. She aims to accomplish this by working to build community and support for fellow artists and entrepreneurs. 

Current initiatives


Council Chambers Indigenous art initiative

We are commissioning four textile artworks by female or Two-Spirit artists of any gender to exhibit in Calgary’s City Council Chambers for a period of 10 years. These art pieces will be created using traditional methods such as beadwork, quillwork, weaving, tufting, felting or applique. Artists will be chosen by a selection panel made up of Elders, artists and community members from Stoney Nakoda, Blackfoot Confederacy, Tsuut’ina Nation and Metis Nation Region 3 to ensure the art created accurately represents each Nation’s unique history and community. 

The Land is Home at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

 From spring 2022 to spring 2023,  The Land is Home project celebrates Indigenous connection to the land with rotating exhibits by Blackfoot, Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda artists at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Nature Centre. Exhibits include both traditional and contemporary painting, drawing, sculpture, video, poetry, music and performance with a theme of nature or land. This project reminds park visitors that Indigenous people have cared for these lands since time immemorial and served as the original stewards of the places we now enjoy as parks. It aims to teach us that protecting and honouring the land is universally important across all Indigenous cultures.

Indigenous PlaceKeeping program

In 2021, the pilot year of the Indigenous Place Keeping program, Blackfoot artist Kalum T Dan created art for three banners that currently hang on pillars outside Council Chambers in Calgary’s municipal building atrium. The works titled Past, Present and Future will be on display for two years. Moving forward, this program will provide opportunities for more Indigenous artists to showcase their work in the atrium of the municipal building. Multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, and all other art forms will be welcome and created by Indigenous artists representing all Treaty 7 Nations, Metis Nation Region 3 and urban Indigenous Calgarians. 

Moh’kinsstis Public Art Guiding Circle

Since 2017, the Moh′kinsstis Public Art Guiding Circle has supported The City’s public art program to respond and act appropriately in its relationship with Indigenous communities and citizens. The Guiding Circle is made up of Indigenous artists of different disciplines, from a variety of communities and who bring diverse perspectives. Public art concepts, whether created by Indigenous or non-Indigenous artists, are presented to the Guiding Circle for feedback to ensure they are respectful of the original people of this land.

Tamaani exhibit

The Tamaani exhibit is a new collection of stone sculptures carved by artists from different regions of Nunavut. The collection is curated by Sophia Lebessis. In the words of the curator, “Tamaani [Here] is a starting point with which to relook at Inuit art, not as a homogenous art form, but the land coming to life, bringing one into the imagination of an artist's relationship with the environment that has shaped them.” This exhibit will be available for lending to schools and other educational institutions beginning in the summer of 2023.

Past initiatives


Alberta Public Art Network artist residency

In 2021 we worked with the Alberta Public Art Network (APAN) to provide a research residency that gave artists living in Alberta the support to further develop their artistic practices. Two Indigenous artists participated. Faye HeavyShield a member of the Kainai Nation and seth cardinal dodginghorse from Tsuu’tina Nation explored the theme "acts of care" and presented at the APAN summit in October 2021.

Benefit-Driven Procurement, Public Art and Indigenous Peoples

Beginning in 2019, we worked with our procurement team on a project to help increase the number of Indigenous artists applying for, and being selected for, public art projects. This 14-month project aimed to  enable long-term sustainable relationships among The City of Calgary and Indigenous Peoples. It focused on improving processes for reaching out to artists in Indigenous communities and finding the best way to commission them.

Education and field guides

In 2019, a field guide and an education guide were produced in response to the Wolfe and the Sparrows project. They were written and edited by Indigenous writer and art educator, Steve Gin, to help educators and grades 5-9 students explore this and related artworks.

Street Art Program for Youth

The 2019 Street Art Program for Youth brought together Indigenous artists, Indigenous Elders and Calgary youth. They shared teachings and explored common values with the youth Over a six-week program. This collaboration resulted in the mural, Our Window on the wall of the Downtown Calgary Mosque.

Indigenous Artist in Residency program

In 2017, the Indigenous Artist in Residency program invited Treaty 7 and local urban Indigenous artists to participate in a three-month long residency. Artist Danielle (Danni) Black, also known as Sui Taa Kik (Sue-Da-Gee), Marina Crane (Hapan Kinyewakan) and Sheldon First Rider were selected to take part. The program was designed to foster a supportive environment for Indigenous artists in Calgary. It also provided dedicated research time for Indigenous artists interested in working within a municipal government context and in pursuing public art as part of their practice.

About reconciliation

Learn more about the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee (CAUAC).

Have a question? Contact the public art team.

undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null,undefined/null