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A new banner on display along the crosswalk above College Drive features a call for submissions for the annual ohpinamake Indigenous art prize. (Photo by Kristen McEwen)

New banner calls for ohpinamake Indigenous art prize applications

Annual ohpinamake art prize recognizes how Indigenous artists’ work uplifts others


A new banner is on display along the walkway above College Drive that borders the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus. 

The eye-catching signage prominently features a call for applications for ohpinamake, an annual award for Indigenous and First Peoples artists. The banner features yellow, white, black and red—the colours of the medicine wheel. 

The word ohpinamake is a nêhiyawêwin (Cree) term meaning, “to lift others.” A group of three Indigenous community leaders—Knowledge Keepers Maria Campbell, Sky Dancer and artist Louise Bernice Halfe and USask graduate Ruth Cuthand (BFA’83, MFA’92)— gifted the name to the USask Art Galleries and Collection.

The annual award is intended to recognize Indigenous artists’ relationship to their community, and how their work lifts others. 

The recipient of the inaugural award was KC Adams, an Anishinaabe, Inninew and British artist living in Winnipeg. She was selected by a jury of cultural workers and community members to receive the first $10,000 ophinamake award in 2022. Adams is a social practice artist, mentor, activist, educator and community member. 

The art prize was made possible thanks to the generosity of donors Marian Knock and her late husband Jim (BE’76) in partnership with USask. The award acknowledges the unique capacity of art to bridge differences, but also to make things different. 

Originally from Saskatchewan, the donors moved to Victoria, B.C. They have provided a total of $50,000 for ohpinamake, which will be administered by the USask Art Galleries and Collection in the College of Arts and Science. Since the first iteration of the award last year, $10,000 will be provided annually for the next four years to Indigenous artists whose territories intersect with the current colonial borders of Canada.

For individuals who wish to contribute to the ohpinamake art prize, please visit the Arts and Science Alumni and Giving webpage, and select ohpinamake as the designation.  

Applications for the ohpinamake Indigenous art prize will be accepted until Aug. 25, 2023. For any questions regarding the application process, please contact jake moore, director of the USask Art Galleries and Collection. 

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