A new Indigenous art installation now sits at the northeast corner of Gould Street and Nelson Mandela Walk.
Completed earlier this week, the three-metre tall steel structure known as The Ring can be seen on your morning coffee run to Balzac’s, as it stands prominently on this campus walkway. To walk through The Ring, you must step from east or west. With its opening facing east, the installation represents creation and new beginnings. With its opening facing west, it represents knowledge and wisdom.
The Ring is decorated with graphics formed by perforations into the steel. Among them, you can see the Seven Grandfather teachings along with their animal symbol. In addition, you can see stars, the constellation Pleiades, and lunar moon phases.
The installation has been in the works for over two years, according to Matthew Hickey, Mohawk, and a member of the Wolf clan from the Six Nations of the Grand River. He posted about the project on LinkedIn, outlining how it was created in consultation with the Indigenous community on campus.
Hickey works as an architect at Two Row Architect, located on Six Nations. He’s spent 14 years there, overseeing design and development. He designed the installation with colleague Jacqueline Daniel.
“The Ring is a living monument to the work of Truth and Reconciliation and a daily reminder of our connection with the land and water we live, work, learn, and play upon,” said Hickey.
The Ring encourages you to enter beneath the structure, completing the circle with a human presence, he said, adding that it will serve as a reminder to embrace the community’s respective backgrounds and connect with the earth.
“In our traditional Indigenous teachings, everything is about intent and the right relationship with our world,” Joanne Okimawininew Dallaire, elder (Ke Shay Hayo) and the university’s senior advisor of Indigenous relations and reconciliation, said in its release. “As we continue to navigate the many challenges of the past year, I am grateful that we were able to come together as a community to bring this meaningful vision to life.”