Cultural Symbols

The following cultural symbols are reflective of Indigenous pictographs and petroglyphs from sacred archaeological sites in southern Alberta. The symbols need to be understood from within a specific Indigenous cultural context that is distinct from contemporary or post-colonial interpretations.

Foundational concepts

In addition to the guiding principle of working "in a good way," the following concepts reflect the change processes built into the foundation of the Indigenous Strategy:


The Journey

Represents ”the ceremonial leader or holy person.” The symbol reflects that our transformation is a progressive and evolutionary journey, guided by Traditional Knowledge Keepers, and validated through ceremony.

Transformation Cultural Symbol (ii’ taa’poh’to’p Indigenous UCalgary)


The People

Represents human beings seeking change and renewal. In a ceremonial context, this symbol reflects the process of renewal through ceremonial reflection, leading to self-actualization. The symbol is applied to the university as a living entity.

Renewal Cultural Symbol (ii’ taa’poh’to’p Indigenous UCalgary)

Shared Space

The Ethical Space

An open teepee canvas with the symbol of the Morning Star represents the shared, ethical space for dialogue — an equitable place that is inclusive, respectful and exploratory; a safe place to share ideas that help guide and shape the process of renewal and transformation.

Shared space Cultural Symbol (ii’ taa’poh’to’p Indigenous UCalgary)

Focus areas

The 27 recommendations within ii' taa'poh'to'p are divided into four focus areas: Ways of Knowing, Ways of Doing, Ways of Connecting and Ways of Being

Ways of Knowing

Teaching, learning and research

Represents the Sun, the giver of life. The Sun represents knowledge and enlightenment. In the context of academia, the symbol reflects theoretical concepts, epistemology and pedagogy related to teaching, learning and research.

Ways of Doing

Policies, procedures and practices

Represents parallel practices and protocols in terms of Indigenous ways of doing and practicing, including the concept of doing things ”in a good way.” The Pipe represents validated processes and agreements, and the smudge is a ceremonial process for clearing the path or a “calling to order.”

Ways of Connecting

Relationships, partnerships, connections to land and place

Represents the Sun and a bundle. Taken as a whole, the symbol signifies respectful relationships and interconnectedness, based on Indigenous epistemology and principles related to communal responsibility and reciprocity. 

Ways of Being

Campus identity, inclusivity, leadership and engagement

Represents community as a whole, and is inclusive of all human beings and living entities. It also reflects ancestors, present community members and future generations. The symbol is based on principles of communal responsibility and reciprocity and reflects concepts of respect, dignity, honesty and inclusivity.

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Conceptual and Cultural Models

Learn about the conceptual and cultural models that work in parallel to illustrate the guiding principals of ii' taa'poh'to'p.

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Strategy document

Launched in 2017, ii' taa'poh'to'p guides the University of Calgary on its path to truth and reconciliation. Read the 52-page strategy document, which guides our journey forward in the coming years.

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