Sacred Teachings showcased in new public art on Killam Library

- April 17, 2024

Mi'kmaw artist Lorne Julien's paintings, installed on the exterior wall of the Killam Memorial Library this month, depict the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Mi'kmaq. (Cody Turner photos)
Mi'kmaw artist Lorne Julien's paintings, installed on the exterior wall of the Killam Memorial Library this month, depict the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Mi'kmaq. (Cody Turner photos)

A transformation has taken place on the imposing brutalist walls of the Killam Memorial Library. Seven circular paintings now decorate the library's exterior, adding vibrant colour and meaning to the space.

These eye-catching artworks are the creation of Millbrook artist Lorne Julien, known by his Mi’kmaw name, “Warrior on the Hill.” Each painting features a different animal on a bright turquoise backdrop.

But the paintings are more than just decorative pieces; they embody the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Mi'kmaq or L'nu'k.

Rooted in the interconnection with the land and the natural world, the Seven Sacred Teachings — honesty, respect, wisdom, love, humility, courage, and truth — are embodied by the animals depicted in Julien's artwork. Julien notes that this is not the only interpretation — there are different versions of the teachings for different regions.

Each animal depicted carries significance directly related to Mi’kma’ki:

Muin – bear - love


Tia'm – moose - courage


Plamu – salmon - honesty


Kopit – beaver – truth

Kitpu – eagle - respect


Paqtism – wolf - humility





Mikjikj – turtle - wisdom


Dalhousie’s Director of Indigenous Community Engagement Catherine Martin expressed her excitement at the addition of the artwork and teachings, saying it made her want to dance to a ko’jua song. She asks that the Dal community “embrace these teachings to make it a more peaceful place for all by practicing the teachings.”

For Julien, this project was about more than art; it's about infusing spaces with new light, sparking discussion, and encouraging people to look within and reflect on their own lives. 

Recommended reading: Ko’jua Okuom — Dal’s new Indigenous community room offers a space for reflection and celebration

Honouring Mi’kmaw knowledge

By incorporating the artwork into the campus landscape, the university aims to honour Mi’kmaw knowledge and territory, fostering deeper connections with the rich cultural heritage of the Mi’kmaq.

Dean of Libraries Michael Vandenburg is grateful for the collaborative efforts to bring Julien’s artwork to the Killam.

“I’m quite pleased to see the brutalist facade of the Killam disrupted by this vibrant depiction of the Seven Sacred Teachings and have felt buoyed each time I’ve passed them,” he says.

“This small change to the exterior represents bigger changes happening throughout the library where we are seeking to celebrate and incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing into our services and collections. Many thanks to Catherine Martin for bringing Julien’s art and knowledge to our community at Dalhousie, and to our many partners across campus who generously supported this project with their time, knowledge, and funds.”

Dal Libraries worked with Dalhousie’s Communications, Marketing, and Creative Services team, as well as Facilities Management, to commission the artwork and have it mounted on the Killam.

Indigenous art at Dalhousie

Lorne Julien's paintings add to Dal's existing collection of Indigenous public art.

Learn more about a few of the other works showcasing Indigenous beauty and meaning across campus and in nearby communities.



All comments require a name and email address. You may also choose to log-in using your preferred social network or register with Disqus, the software we use for our commenting system. Join the conversation, but keep it clean, stay on the topic and be brief. Read comments policy.

comments powered by Disqus