Artwork on campus inspired by ancient Indigenous medicine wheel

ASIN Unveiling 2017

Use the arrows to browse through photos from the unveiling of ASIN, ©UWinnipeg.

Wall etching creates visible welcome at Axworthy Health and RecPlex

WINNIPEG, MB –In partnership with Ebb and Flow First Nation, The University of Winnipeg today unveiled a new collaborative public artwork that becomes the welcoming entrance of the Axworthy Health and RecPlex, at 350 Spence Street.

The wall etching, entitled ASIN, meaning stone in Ojibwe, is a collaborative public artwork between Ebb and Flow First Nation, UWinnipeg, and artist-architect Eduardo Aquino (spmb.ca). ASIN represents the encounter of Indigenous and settler cultures, promoting the dialogue and the common growth within a shared territory. The medicine wheel is the design inspiration. The Medicine Wheel of Alonsa, Manitoba, is the only ancient medicine wheel in the province, located in the Ebb and Flow territory, and the community was actively involved in this collaboration. The community composed the text and translated it into Ojibwe with the community Elders blessing.

“With UWinnipeg’s deep commitment to reflecting Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, this unique artwork becomes a highly visible symbol of holistic healing and wellness on campus and in our community,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “As we celebrate National Aboriginal Day tomorrow, we have the opportunity to pause, and reflect more deeply on the pathways we can forge together towards reconciliation.”

“Public art has this capacity to infuse little moments of the everyday with meaning. This project in its simplicity has the power of conveying so many meanings, and for different people,” said ASIN artist Eduardo Aquino. “The transformative power of art has the capacity to effect change to individuals and communities, creating a new sense of identity and purpose. It is a great honour for me to collaborate with the community of Ebb and Flow and UWinnipeg, to bring these values together.”

Installation of ASIN was managed by UWinnipeg Community Renewal Corporation. A window decal description of the artwork has been posted in English and is being translated into Ojibwe in the coming weeks to form a permanent part of the installation.

HISTORY PRESERVED

A unique part of UWinnipeg’s history is preserved with a piece of original Tyndall stone embedded at the front entrance of the Axworthy Health and RecPlex. It was 1871 when the first students gathered in a house, in what is today West Kildonan, to study the classics, an initiative of Reverend John Black. That house was owned by Selkirk settler Donald Murray, and would become Manitoba College, which merged with Wesley College to form United College in 1938. It then became The University of Winnipeg in 1967. Several years ago, educator, history enthusiast and former Chair of The University of Winnipeg’s Board of Regents Richard Graydon was walking the Murray property and came across a Tyndall stone basement. It became his mission to reclaim and repatriate a section of that Manitoba College stone back to UWinnipeg’s main campus. Repatriation of the Tyndall stone was made possible through a generous $10,000 gift from the Donner Canadian Foundation.

THE STORY

ASIN – Ojibwe, meaning rock

ASIN is a collaborative public artwork created in partnership between Ebb and Flow First Nation, The University of Winnipeg, artist-architect Eduardo Aquino and Number TEN Architectural Group. ASIN welcomes visitors to the Axworthy Health and RecPlex and conveys the coming together of people in reconciliation, healing, and wellness.

The pattern was inspired by and based on a topographical map of the only ancient Medicine Wheel in the province of Manitoba, which is located on the historical lands of Ebb and Flow First Nation, near Alonsa. The medicine wheel is frequently associated with ceremony, cleansing and healing of the body and spirit, and regeneration of the earth and its resources.

The poem was composed by members of Ebb and Flow First Nation, and speaks of the Memekwesiak, (or ‘little people’). According to members of the community, the Memekwesiak exist in both the material and spirit worlds and the Medicine Rock, also located in the community of Ebb and Flow, is thought to be a gateway between these realms.  Traditionally, visitors to the Medicine Rock leave tobacco, food and cloth as gifts to the Memekwesiak. The text was blessed by Ebb & Flow Elders, Percy and Mary Houle, and was translated into Ojibwe by Olga Houle.

BACKGROUND

UWinnipeg has among the strongest rates of Indigenous student participation in Canada with 12% of incoming students self-identifying as First Nations, Inuit and Métis. UWinnipeg is located on Treaty One land in the heart of the Métis Nation.

Effective September 2016, UWinnipeg heeded the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and became one of the first universities in the country (along with Lakehead) to mandate that new students have a baseline knowledge about Indigenous people and culture. The Indigenous Course Requirement applies to all new undergraduates and to date, more than 1,450 students have enrolled in one of the 48 courses offered.

The Axworthy Health and RecPlex (RecPlex) is a recreation and wellness hub located in the heart of the inner-city, built to accommodate both students and community members. It attracts 2,000 community visits weekly, guaranteed through a unique Community Charter. Neighbourhood participants have strong Indigenous and immigrant representation. Activities include Fit Kids, hoop dancing, a weekly community Pow Wow club, martial arts, the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre and Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization soccer programs, Ndinawe basketball and the Spence Neighbourhood recreation programming, to name just a few. The Recplex opened in September 2014 and is designated LEED Gold status for its sustainability features.

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MEDIA CONTACT

Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E: d.poulin@uwinnipeg.ca

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