The Department of Athletics recently unveiled a new mural designed by Anishinaabe artist Luke Swinson. The sprawling work is intended to be a lasting representation of the University of Guelph’s and Department of Athletics’ commitment to honour their responsibilities to truth and reconciliation, and their work to embed Indigenous presence in spaces that support the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual wellness of our campus community. 

Artist Luke Swinson in front of new mural
Artist Luke Swinson stands in front of the new mural he created in the Athletics Centre

Located at the Larry Pearson entrance of the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre, the mural is meant to visually illustrate the presence of Indigenous peoples and cultures in this place of gathering, recreation and sport at U of G.

Artist Luke Swinson commented that the Gryphon represents the school and the diverse group of people that revolve around it, growing and flourishing within the natural space.

“I really wanted to focus on the land in this mural. Guelph and the University in particular are situated on such a diverse and beautiful natural space, with so much history. I really want to bring that forth. The Gryphon, being surrounded by plants, hills, water and basking in the sun is representing the importance of the natural world and that these aspects are something the University takes very seriously.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) final report was released with 94 calls to action, including five that address reconciliation tied specifically to sport (Calls to Action #87-91).

“This mural is very important to us; it represents the land we are on and the work we need to do,” says Scott McRoberts, director of Athletics. “The TRC report clearly outlines the importance of sport and recreation as an important area around barriers to access, promotion of physical and mental wellbeing and to be inclusive of Indigenous people in their pursuit of excellence. This is something we take very seriously, as Truth and Reconciliation is not an Indigenous issue, it is a Canadian issue and we have a responsibility to do our part.”

This project was supported by U of G’s Office of Student Affairs and the Indigenous Student Centre. Athletics worked with both offices to curate proposals from four local artists. Various student committees voted to select the chosen artist.

About the Artist:

Luke Swinson is a visual artist with Anishinaabe roots from Kitchener, Ont. A member of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, Luke’s work reflects his desire to better understand and reclaim his Indigenous culture. He seeks to promote cultural education and preservation through his art projects.