Mi’kai’sto Red Crow Community College

Welcoming People into a Blackfoot Space

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Mi’kai’sto Red Crow Community College

Celebrating Culture with Art

Art and language are how people convey meaning and share ideas. When Mi’kai’sto Red Crow Community College wanted to welcome visitors to their Blackfoot community and culture, they knew it was best to do it with their own art and their own words. Over two years, Entro helped Mi’kai’sto complete the planning, management, and curation of an ambitious art program, developed by Blackfoot artists. The resulting collection features material, cultural symbols, and contextual elements that are essential to the Blackfoot identity and to the Mi’kai’sto message.
  • Client

    Mi’kai’sto Red Crow Community College

  • Location

    Standoff, Alberta

  • Sector

    Educational

  • Discipline

    Art Program, Placemaking, Wayfinding

  • Architect

    Kasian

  • Design Collaborators

    Mary-Beth Laviolette, Independent Curator Lori Van Rooijen, Project Director

  • Photography

    Jason Dziver

  • Awards

    Graphis Design Annual Silver 16th Grand Prix du Design Silver Certification Applied Arts Award, Exterior Monument Graphic Design USA, Exterior Monument

Art and Identity

Fifteen Blackfoot and other invited artists have created original commissioned works of art for this new college facility, each responding to the program art committee and Elders’ briefing. The briefing conveyed the aspirations for Mi’kai’sto, for the young people and the community, and the importance of the Blackfoot worldview, storytelling, and knowledge transfer.

The art program not only celebrates the community, but supports it. By developing a system of paid commissions, established and emerging Blackfoot artists were able to support their work, gain experience, and showcase their work to a wider audience.

“We wanted people to feel that they are in a Blackfoot space when they entered the building. We thought the very best way to do that is through art. Each individual piece throughout the building conveys our Blackfoot culture, history and ways of knowing. Collectively, the art tells the story of who we are, where we have been and what our future holds. It is a very special place."

– Lionel Weasel Head (Aapoomiita), Chair of the Board of Governors, Mi’kai’sto

Exterior cultural monument at dusk
exterior cultural monument, from the inside of the circle looking up toward the sky.

A highlight of the art program is an exterior monument that stands as a celebration of Blackfoot culture and a beacon to the community.

Its 22 colourfully illuminated poles form a circle that opens at the east and west, defining an accessible and intimate space for gathering. Every second pole is marked with one of the 11 values that are key to Blackfoot culture, inviting everyone to contemplation and introspection.

"As a commissioned artist, to contribute to the continuum of Blackfoot visual culture is truly an honour. The importance and transfer of Blackfoot visual knowledge at the college is one of its main objectives; to honour, to encourage, to research and to celebrate the many creative minds and protocols of the Blackfoot. Red Crow Community College is a gathering place, a lodge that protects, promotes and celebrates our past, present and future."

– Adrian Stimson (Apoiskumapi), member of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation in southern Alberta

Bilingual room signage.
For the Love of Language

The bilingual wayfinding program uses the Blackfoot language as its primary voice throughout the school. The language is a constant reminder of the space’s Blackfoot identity and history, helping to reinforce the community’s sense of itself. And as people navigate the 129,000-square foot facility, the pairing of languages invites visitors to see themselves as welcome guests, free to learn and experience everything that is unique about Blackfoot culture.

Detail of directional signage showing dimensional arrow.
Washroom signage with custom pictos designed in collaboration with the client.
Freestanding directional sign surrounded by artwork.

Honouring the diversity of Blackfoot experience, voices, and culture, the program has helped facilitate meaningful placemaking and community building at Mi’kai’sto.

View a complete listing of the artists and their work here.

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