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Morning Star - Red River Innovation Centre - Roundhouse Floor

KC Adams incorporates traditional and new technologies in a space designed to bring people together from a wide range of backgrounds to learn and innovate. The Innovation Centre itself is home to RRC's flagship business, information, and technology programs.

"Embracing technology is a part of who Indigenous people are and have always been," says Adams. 

Morning Star celebrates traditional Indigenous technologies such as birch bark, which Adams features prominently in the design.

"Birch bark was used as a versatile technology for many tribal groups across North America for knowledge sharing, vessels, shelter, transportation, design, fuel and even sunglasses to prevent snow-blindness." 

Adams, who is based in Winnipeg, sourced the bark herself, then scanned and digitally altered it to fit the larger design. The bark is arranged in a pattern that represents new beginnings: "the first star you see in the morning, the star that guides us."

Morning Star also recognizes each of the Indigenous groups in Treaty One Territory, where RRC is located, along with “all their givings, influences, and contributions to technology throughout the history of this land."

For instance, the morning star pattern frequently appears in star blankets, and comes from the Nakota, Lakota and Dakota nations. In Adams’ work, it overlaps with a medicine wheel motif inspired by Cree tradition, with four colours pointing in four directions. (In line with tradition, the entrance to the Roundhouse opens to the east; ceremony attendees exit out the west.) 

The work also features symmetrical markings similar to Cree and Ojibway birch bark biting, a traditional artform in which artists "take a piece of birch bark, fold it and bite it, then open it up and get this design," Adams explains. Elements of her own design were inspired by the work of Ilona Stanley, whose birch bark art features dragonflies, butterflies, and floral designs. 

Morning Star’s colour palette honours the vivid colours Indigenous peoples use to decorate their clothing and sacred items. Other symbols in its design include triangles, which were used by all cultural groups living in the area, and snakes that evoke Ojibway water serpent stories. A Métis sash represents the Métis nation, and a prominent "Y" pattern evokes Inuit wrist tattoos.

"The Inuit tattoos you'd see on women's arms and wrists, they're like a circuit board inked on. In this piece they represent new technology and thinking about future technologies."

Adams says she has a strong relationship with Treaty One Territory because of her family history.

"I am a descendant of surveyor and explorer Peter Fidler (Derbyshire, England) and Mary Mackegonne (York Factory). My sixth great-grandfather George Taylor surveyed the Red River Colony and created the first map of Winnipeg in 1836. I am also linked to these lands and waters through blood memory passed on from my Indigenous ancestors."

She turned to learning about her ancestors' artistic traditions to understand her history, and discovered that created objects contain power and knowledge, including traditions, spiritual beliefs, and natural sciences. While Adams was designing, she thought about the space as a place where Elders, children and others would explore details in the work, and discover a direct connection to its themes and meanings. 

Passing on this knowledge to the future is important to her, she says, because "I grew up without pride, in large part because Residential Schools and the Indian Act actively destroyed my connection to my culture."

Morning Star

Red River Community College Manitou a bi Bii daziigae, RRC Polytech’s newest building at the Exchange District Campus, the Roundhouse Auditorium is a 210-seat space that will be used for events, ceremonies and collaborative learning. It is sound-proof, ventilated for the use of traditional medicines, and features a curved, panoramic projector to display videos and create an immersive experience.