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Indigenous public art

Indigenous art in Calgary

Indigenous culture and voices are important to our past, present and future. We’re taking steps to support reconciliation by improving opportunities for Indigenous artists to consult on, participate in and influence public art.

About reconciliation

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

Art created by Indigenous artists

We are working to increase opportunities for Indigenous artists to create public art in Calgary.

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

Indigenous curators

We are providing more opportunities for Indigenous artists to curate exhibits. This allows connections to be built between local government, the arts community and Indigenous groups.

Jessica McMann

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

She works in close collaboration 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 to the public art program.

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.

Sikapinakii Low Horn

In September 2021, Sikapinakii Low Horn joined the public art team as an associate Indigenous curator.

Sikapinakii is a two-spirited artist from the Siksika First Nation and they will be attending the University of Calgary to study for a Master's of Fine Arts in Drawing this fall. They use a variety of mixed mediums to tell the stories of their identity, Indigenous experiences, culture, language and stories.

Their goal is to educate non-Indigenous people about the Blackfoot people in hopes that it'll create a comfortable environment for all.

This is critical for young Indigenous people because they have a deep-rooted need to tell their story and the stories of their people.

Indigenous initiatives in public art

Current programs

Benefit-Driven Procurement, Public Art and Indigenous Peoples
We’re working with our procurement team on a project to help increase the number of Indigenous artists applying for, and being selected for, public art projects. Starting in November 2019, this 14-month project is meant to enable long-term sustainable relationships among The City of Calgary and Indigenous Peoples. It will focus on improving processes for reaching out to artists in Indigenous communities and finding the best way to commission them.

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.

Indigenous Placekeeping Program
The Indigenous Place Keeping program is in a pilot year. Kalum T Dan is the first artist to have work exhibited in the Municipal Building downtown. In the future, the Indigenous Place Keeping program will allow 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.

Previous programs

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.

Have a question? Contact the public art team.