September 15, 2018 5:15 pm
Updated: September 15, 2018 5:19 pm

Edmonton’s first Indigenous art park opens in river valley

An official grand opening was held for ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Saturday afternoon.

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A touch of colour and art filled a section of Edmonton’s river valley on an otherwise cold, wet, snowy day.

The official grand opening for ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ was held Saturday afternoon.

The Indigenous art park, which is pronounced “Ee-nu” River Lot 11, features six works of art by Indigenous artists in Canada and is located within Queen Elizabeth Park.

“I’m really honoured to be part of this whole project,” said artist Jerry Whitehead, whose piece is featured in the park. “This part of the river valley has been a gathering place for thousands of years.”

Construction began last year following a partnership between the City of Edmonton, the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, the Métis Nation of Alberta, the Edmonton Arts Council and several Indigenous artists. The project began in 2013, when the group came up with the idea to develop an Indigenous art park that could permanently exhibit Indigenous artwork.

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ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) is a Cree word meaning “I am of the Earth.”

“It’s not only a beautiful gathering place for all people but a celebration of Indigenous peoples, Indigenous artists and the city’s committment to reconciliation,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “It’s important that place names reflect the Indigenous heritage.”

The art park is situated on the ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples whose descendants entered into a treaty with the British Crown that resulted in the territory opening for settlement.

River Lot 11 acknowledges the historic river lot that was originally home to Métis landowner Joseph McDonald.

“I hope it opens up dialogue so people can ask questions about our history,” Whitehead said. “A lot of it is about history and storytelling.”

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