Colin Tennent
Colin Tennent

Naming to honour Indigenous cultures

A new initiative at the University of Saskatchewan is aiming to indigenize its facilities and better reflect the diverse students, staff and faculty who come together on campus.

The U of S has announced it will rechristen Arts Court, a small turnaround nestled between the College of Law and the Arts and Science Building, as Elders Court.

"I firmly believe this emphasizes the importance of Indigenous Peoples," said University Architect Colin Tennent, who is a member of the naming committee behind such decisions. "We are on Treaty 6 land. I think it's a great respect, and one that's deserved.

"It helps to identify the university as an institution that celebrates its Indigenous Peoples. I think this, along with facilities like the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre, makes the university a more welcoming and receptive place."

Elders Court is the first step in a larger move toward altering the names of structures, roadways and walking paths to better reflect the larger campus community.

Though the long-term goal is to better represent all cultures on campus, Tennent said for now a focus is being placed on doing more to make the university indicative of the diverse people who walk through its halls and grounds.

"We want to recognize all nations, but certainly recognize the need to be symbolic in our representation of Aboriginal Peoples," he said, adding that there are many Indigenous Peoples represented here on campus.

The new name for Arts Court was chosen both as a way honouring leaders within the Aboriginal community and because of the location's frequent use by Elders coming to and from the U of S.

"Arts Courts has generally been a place where Elders who attend the university are dropped off or picked up. Certainly, as we continue to use the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre, there might be some changes to where Elders are dropped off—or anyone who attends that facility—but it's an obvious and recognizable rename," Tennent said.

Moving forward, Tennent said there are many opportunities to implement cultural representation on campus that are currently being looked at. While none have been officially decided on as of yet, he said there is an exciting variety currently on the table.

"We aim to create a balance in naming facilities, and to introduce other icons or symbols. We're looking to introduce artifacts and artwork into, on and in front of buildings that reflect a range of cultures. Of course, the Aboriginal cultures on these lands are extremely important and will feature in what we do."

New signage for Elder's Court has been ordered, with installation expected in the near future.

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