Two teepees were vandalized in front of the First Nations University of Canada over the weekend, with what appear to be slashes in the sides.
Roland Kaye, a cultural liaison worker at the university, said he got a call about the damage Sunday afternoon and believes the teepees were vandalized sometime Saturday night.
“They’re going to take some significant repair to stitch them up … They were pretty cut up, and it does look like a cut. The wind isn’t going to do that,” he said.
“People vandalize things every day but when it comes to a teepee, you know, that shouldn’t happen because … the teepees here were for the public to enjoy — the artwork, the lights.”
Although the teepees will be repaired, Kaye said he doesn’t think they will be put up again. All of the teepees were slated to be taken down within the next couple of weeks so the university can do lawn maintenance.
Because of this, he said the artwork had been removed from the teepees before the vandalism as the university decides what to do with it in the future.
Kaye said seeing teepees vandalized like this shows a lack of understanding and respect for the significance of the structure.
“Teepees long ago were somebody’s place, their home fire … they weren’t being utilized like as a home per se, but the teepee represents a lot of teachings,” he said.
“We’re going to be afraid now to keep things up so it’s going to affect everything, so it’s the general public that loses out on one person’s lack of respect.”
The vandalized teepees are part of an art installation titled kêhtê-ayak that opened in September. The installation includes 14 teepees located in a circle on the lawn of the First Nations University. The teepees hold artwork created by seven different artists, each looking at a different theme or story.
An artistic interpretation of the history, traditions, languages and knowledge systems of Indigenous Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, the installation sought to bring to life history from the very beginning of life to the present, addressing creation stories, first contact, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and more.
The installation was created with the guidance of the kêhtê-ayak Elders Council and overseen by Peyachew and Regina-based artist Peter Brass, who was on site Monday morning dismantlaing the vandalized teepees.
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