A teaching tipi located near Heritage Link is the newest addition to our historic St. Mary’s University campus. We are excited to have this new Indigenous space on campus as a designated place for learning, celebration, and gathering. 

The tipi was commissioned earlier this summer, through consultation and guidance from our Indigenous Advisory Council.  We worked with our partners in education at the Tsuut’ina Nation to request that Deanna and Bruce Starlight (visit their website here) create for us an 18-foot tipi that we could use for teaching on campus. The purpose of acquiring this new tipi is to be able to have it up consecutively throughout spring and into the fall to use for an Indigenous gathering space, to host Elders on campus, and for teaching spaces centering Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing.

The tipi was recently used as a learning environment for a week-long field study course at StMU (Indigenous Field Course, INST301) which invited students into an experiential and transformational space to learn more about themselves and their own relationships to Land through Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing. 

Indigenous field study students gather in front of our new teaching tipi with their instructor, StMU Director of Indigenous Initiatives, Michelle Scott, and Lakota/Dakota Elder, Evelyn Good Striker

Faculty and staff members are welcomed to use this teaching tipi space for workshops and small classes, and are asked to reach out to Indigenous@stmu.ca to book this space. And although tipis are sometimes known as a four-season lodge, please note that our teaching tipi will be taken down before the snow flies and be put back up once the snow is gone.

Getting this tipi set up on campus has been years in the making, and was made possible with a mental health funding grant from the government. Adding this teaching tipi to our campus is another step in our journey toward learning the truth and walking together toward reconciliACTION.  

“I am so proud to see the tipi standing when I come on to campus, and I know that our Indigenous students, and community members feel the same way. It is both a symbol and a living enactment of what it means to belong to this place, here and now. A tipi is the traditional home for the people of the plains, and it is still used in traditional and ceremonial ways today. To have this tipi is a way for StMU to be welcoming to all Indigenous peoples who now call Mohkinststis home”. 

St. Mary’s University is located in the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Iyahe Nakoda.  We are situated on land where the Bow River meets the Elbow River; the traditional Blackfoot name of this place is “Mohkinstsis,” which we now call the City of Calgary.  The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.