Indigenous Art Projects

In 2023 SFU commissioned four works of public art to acknowledge, honour and respect the unceded traditional territories of the south of the Fraser River First Nations where SFU’s Surrey campus is located.

Designed in consultation with Indigenous and local community partners, the pieces produced by Indigenous artists, Phyllis Atkins, and her son, Noah (Kwantlen First Nation), Rain Pierre (Katzie First Nation), and Roxanne Charles and Leslie Wells, both assisted by Easton Arnouse (Semiahmoo First Nation) bring Coast Salish traditions, culture and identity into the heart of the campus’s teaching and community spaces. 

The creation of the artworks also involved the mentorship of emerging First Nations artists. The collaboration between experienced and emerging artists bridges intergenerational sharing of artistic, cultural knowledge and technical skills. Each of the artworks are grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and are more than static displays. They are platforms for learning that invite audiences to deepen their understanding of Indigenous peoples' traditions and their relationship with the land.

As permanent installations on the campus, the art not only helps create a welcoming space for SFU’s Indigenous faculty, staff, students and alumni, but also Surrey’s growing urban Indigenous communities and visitors from across the Lower Mainland, the country and around the world.

Upholding Truth & Reconciliation is a priority within SFU’s What’s Next Strategy. The addition of Indigenous artwork at SFU Surrey addresses recommendations outlined in SFU’s Aboriginal Reconciliation Council’s (SFU-ARC) Walk This Path With Us (2017) report. SFU is committed to continue its work towards Truth and Reconciliation and grateful to the artists for their support and contribution.

*Please note: the artwork of Roxanne Charles and Leslie Wells (Semiahmoo First Nation) will be launched in late Spring 2024.

This project was made possible with the support of Simon Fraser University’s Aboriginal Strategic Initiative, the Office for Aboriginal Peoples, SFU Galleries and the City of Surrey’s Public Art program