Indigenous artwork is inspiring Lakehead University’s Nursing and Psychology students

Picture of Indigenous art work 

May-May-Quish #2 by Paul McKay is one of the works of art on display at Lakehead University. 

May 8, 2023 – Thunder Bay, Ont. 

To the delight of students, faculty, and staff, Lakehead University recently added paintings by Indigenous artists to the Olga Merz School of Nursing Building. 

Some of the artists of the 10 paintings on display include Carrianne Agawa, Ringo Fiddler, Paul McKay, and Lloyd Kakekapetum. 

“The paintings were selected from the Chief Roy Michano Art Collection to complement the spaces,” said Dr. Kristen Jones-Bonofiglio, Director of Lakehead University’s School of Nursing. 

There are a variety of paintings, with each showing a unique style and theme – adding points of interest along the halls for students in Nursing and Psychology. 

This is a collaboration between Lakehead’s Visual Arts Department, the School of Nursing, the Department of Psychology, and Physical Plant, which helped with transporting the artwork and putting it on display. 

The art was added over spring break to go along with one of Agawa’s paintings that was already on display. 

“Upon their return, students were overheard in the hallways making positive comments. They toured the halls to find their favourite piece of art,” Dr. Jones-Bonofiglio said. 

The display highlights the commitment of the School of Nursing and the Department of Psychology to support and acknowledge Indigenous contributions in diverse and creative ways. 

“Indigenous ways of knowing and being are part of the context of the land that we live, work, love, and play on since time immemorial,” she said. 

Dr. Rupert Klein, Chair of Psychology, said this display allows students to consider and reflect on their ongoing learning and growth at Lakehead University, beyond Western academic standards.  

“The art is a welcome addition to our shared space. It brings a new energy and source of discussion and exploration,” Dr. Klein said, adding that faculty and staff have said the art enhances the workplace where they spend so much time. 

“Students have commented that they talk with their peers about the meaning of the art to them personally and what meaning or purpose the artist may have intended,” Dr. Jones-Bonofiglio said. 

Prof. Roland Martin from Lakehead’s Department of Visual Arts led the project. His insight and expertise helped Dr. Jones-Bonofiglio and Dr. Klein to plan and finalize the details. 

“His kind and open demeanour allowed for the needs and wishes of the respective departments to lead the selection of art pieces and final installation decisions,” Dr. Jones-Bonofiglio said.



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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 10,000 students in THE’s 2022 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit