Welcome to DMCI on Treaty 1 LandJune 27, 2022
Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute students and staff recently took part in a project honouring the school’s Indigenous cultural component and the school’s ties to treaty land.
“A group of DMCI's staff participated in the Academic Success Learning Series this year, where they decided a focus for our school was to have the hallways be more representative of our current student body,” said Visual Arts Specialist and teacher Ruby Yudai. “They also recognized that acknowledging the Indigenous land our school resides on, as well as the languages spoken by the groups Indigenous to this land would be a good first step on DMCI's path of Truth and Reconciliation.”
The DMCI Indigenous Girls Art Club was formed to help with the project; students were tasked with creating six felt signs. The signs are displayed at the entrance of DMCI, greeting students, staff, and visitors with the word “welcome” in Ojibwe (Aaniin), Cree (Tânsi), Dakota (Iyuskin), Dene (Wotziye), Michif (Binvnu), and Oji-Cree (Biindigeg).
“As textile art has been used by various Indigenous groups from beading, weaving, embroidery, leatherwork, to woolen felt and wall hangings, creating signs with colourful felt cloth seemed fitting,” Yudai said.
The students in the Art Club researched and independently came up with ways to visually represent each of the six indigenous languages.
“We used a combination between traditional aspects of Indigenous cultures and teachings like the Seven Teachings to design them,” said Grade 12 student Nichole Easter. “I hope that the school-body feels impacted seeing the works to become more intrigued and curious about the Indigenous groups and cultures in Canada.”
Working collaboratively, under the guidance Yudai, students took aspects from everyone’s submissions to create the six images that represent the six groups of Indigenous peoples, ensuring cultural clothing, food, shelter, beliefs, ceremonies, medicines, and art were represented.
The shape for each sign was inspired by the importance of circles in Indigenous culture, a key symbol in Native spirituality, family structure, gatherings of people, meetings, songs and dances, and as seen in drums, dreamcatchers, the medicine wheel, and the footprint of a tipi.
The final step of the Welcome Signs is to have a QR code that will take viewers to visual and recorded information explaining all the meaning incorporated in each sign.
“It is important for our schools to see that we are welcoming in all cultures and religions, to give the other students an opportunity to see and experience First Nations’ art styles and have students to learn about it,” said Grade 12 student Trinity Ducharme-Petrowski.
As a result of the project and other contributions to building community awareness for Truth and Reconciliation, Yudai will be receiving a Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal. Although the date is still to be determined, a formal ceremony will be held at the Manitoba Legislature and the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba will be presenting Yudai with her medal.