Indigenous “Signs of Welcome” unveiled at Hamilton Health Sciences

HAMILTON — New signs honouring the Indigenous territories where Hamilton Health Service providers treat their patients were unveiled at the Ron Joyce Chidlren’s Health Centre on June 13.

The signs feature the works of local Indigenous artists Jay Havens, Philip Cote, Arnold Jacobs and Tracey Anthony. Officials with HHS say the installations, known as “Signs of Welcome” are to “create a hospital environment that is welcoming and respectful of Indigenous culture and heritage.”

Along with the signs of welcome, HHS developed a land acknowledgement statement in cooperation with local Indigenous communities — which will be on permanent display along with the art.

“It is a privilege to provide care on lands that Indigenous peoples have called home for thousands of years. We recognize and respect the presence and stewardship of all Indigenous peoples as keepers of this land,” reads the land acknowledgement.

HHS officials say the art and land acknowledgements will be on display both in physical signage and digital signage throughout the HHS service facilities.

Six Nations Chief Ava Hill of Six Nations of the Grand River, and Pat Mandy representing Chief R. Stacey Laforme of Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation were in attendance to acknowledge the installations.

“The Signs of Welcome are about more than displaying beautiful artwork,” says Rob MacIsaac, HHS President and CEO. “It’s about our organization getting better at listening to and learning from Indigenous communities.”

MacIsaac said the request to make HHS more welcoming to Indigenous people came up through community engagement.


Jay Havens – Elder with Smudge Bowl. Detail of a wall mural from Makayla’s Room, HHS’ first Indigenous family room at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Jay is a multi-disciplinary artist of Haudenosaunee-Mohawk and Scottish-Canadian ancestry, and a proud member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, Bear Clan.

Philip Cote – Moccasins. Adapted from the Moccasin Identifier Project, which aims to create a visual reminder to recognize and honour traditional territory of Indigenous peoples. Some of these images have been engraved into stone walls at Trillium Park (Ontario Place). Philip is Shawnee, Lakota, Potawatomi and Ojibway from Moose Deer Point First Nation.

Arnold Jacobs – Deliverance of Sky Woman. Depicts Sky Woman, the mother goddess, descending to earth and on the back of Turtle Island, which becomes her home. Arnold is an Onondaga artist raised within the traditional culture and language of Six Nations of the Grand River territory.

Tracey Anthony – Turtle and Seven Generations. Includes the image of a turtle with a feather on its back depicting seven segments. This reflects the Seven Generations principle that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future. The four legs represent the Four Directions such as those found in the Medicine Wheel. Tracey’s mother’s is Mississauga (Ojibway) from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and his father was Delaware from the Six Nations of the Grand River.

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