Unique artwork speaks to Reclaiming the Past: One Step at a Time

By Katherine Cormack Posted: September 23, 2019 4:00 p.m.

L-R: Dr. Elmer Brenner, artist, and Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor, unveil "Reclaiming the Past: One Step at a Time."
L-R: Dr. Elmer Brenner, artist, and Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor, unveil "Reclaiming the Past: One Step at a Time." Photo: University Advancement and Communications

When the College Avenue Campus renewal project began several years ago, the University of Regina was presented with a unique opportunity: Marble from the original steps of the 108-year old building was set aside in hopes that a piece of art would be created from them that would capture the spirit of reconciliation. 

Today, Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor of the U of R, along with Elder-in-Residence Lorna Standingready, and local artist Dr. Elmer Brenner unveiled, “Reclaiming the Past: One Step at a Time” on the campus of the recently re-opened and revitalized College Avenue Campus on Treaty 4 territory. 

“It is an honour to have been asked to create this piece, an honour that it is in place at College Avenue Campus, and an honour to have worked with so many wonderful people in the community and at the University, particularly the late Elder-in-Residence and the Office of Indigenization for their guidance and support,” said Dr. Elmer Brenner at the unveiling. 

Dr. Brenner approached the work respectfully and in consultation with Indigenous people on campus, including the University’s late Elder-in-Residence and Emily Grafton and Kallie Wood of the Office of Indigenization. 

“I will look at this work today and for years to come and be reminded of the good work that has been done and the work that is still to be done. It will keep me inspired on our reconciliation journey. It will inspire others, too, to keep working toward reconciliation,” said Dr. Timmons at the unveiling. 

Chief Edmund Bellegarde, Tribal Chief and CEO at File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council Inc., was unable to attend the ceremony, but passed along greetings through Kallie Wood. 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s 2015 final report exhorts Canadians to do more than just talk about reconciliation; but rather learn how to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives–within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools, and workplaces. 

The University has been engaged in the work of reconciliation for more than 40 years, dating back to the opening of First Nations University of Canada on the U of R campus in 1976. 

In recent years, action taken at the U of R toward reconciliation has included a revision of policies (smudging, for example), renaming several campus streets and buildings with Indigenous names, bringing Indigenous ways of knowing into the classroom for all students, creation of the Office of Indigenization, Indigenous Advisory Circle, and the Reconciliation Action Committee, to name a few. 

In 2017, an Eagle Staff was gifted to the U of R to acknowledge the work the University has done toward reconciliation and in support of Indigenous students, as well as to challenge the University community to be warriors–for there continues to be much work to do in order to implement the TRC’s 94 calls to action. 

The unveiling was part of the U of R’s Indigenous Research Week to be capped off by the Glen Anaquod Memorial Tipi Raising on Friday, September 27 on the University’s main campus.

drum group Brenda interacting
The Lone Creek Drum Group shared
the Treaty 4 Honour Song at the
unveiling while Elder-in-Residence
Lorna Standingready shared the
Opening Prayer.
Kokum Brenda Dubois, Knowledge
Keeper, interacts with the newly
installed artwork outside the
College Building on Treaty 4 territory.