The University of Manitoba has unveiled a new work of art at the Elizabeth Dafoe Library which depicts an Indigenous view of education.
At 3:30 p.m. today, in an attempt to strengthen its relationship with Indigenous communities, the University of Manitoba (UM) Libraries has added a new piece of art by Métis artist Val Vint to be displayed on the campus.
Vint is originally from Winnipegosis but has since moved to Winnipeg. She explains the meaning behind the artwork, "Today the Bison is a metaphor for sustenance...education is nature, it is the spirit of the Hunt. A hunt for growth and understanding, connection and togetherness that we all need and belong to."
Showing many similarities to one of her previous pieces, "Education is the New Bison," the untitled art at the Dafoe Library shows that it shares the same inspiration. The similar piece is a 12-foot sculpture that was revealed back in 2020 and is constructed out of 200 steel replicas of books and other articles by Indigenous authors.
During the unveiling not only did Vint reveal the meaning behind her latest work of art, but many people close to her and attending classes at UM shared what it means for them to have the sculpture on the UM campus.
"As a student and have been a student within the Faculty of Social Work since 2005, having representation and having a footprint for us Indigenous students to know that we're not only welcome in this space, but we're needed in this space," says Tammy Nelson. "As an Indigenous woman how important it is for our young people like my daughter and Val's granddaughter who are here to be able to see this Bison and its significance that it has to us so that we feel safe, that we feel welcome and that the university recognizes the harms that have been caused with the disenfranchised of our people and their nations. So, I stand proud in honour of Val for creating this piece because, like that buffalo and the stamping of that ground, our presence is known."
After the crowd finished applauding Nelson, Vint then introduced Raine Seivewright to speak about what the artwork meant to her. Seivewright was overwhelmed with emotion, saying it was difficult to be there.
"I'm very active in the community and ceremony and I feel alive there, but I also honour that getting a degree, it's going to help me be a better advocate for my community and I feel very alone here sometimes. Two weeks ago I saw this on the wall and it was like a breath of fresh air because I do feel alone here sometimes. It's just really good to see representation to remind me why I'm doing this, to make it easier for our future generation...We all have a responsibility to move forward in a good way, and the fact that we're just making a space to be seen."
For anyone wishing to view the Indigenous artwork, it is located on the 1st floor of the Elizabeth Dafoe Library, 25 Chancellors Circle, on the UM campus.