Skip to main content

Wanuskewin adds new Indigenous art program thanks to generous local donors


Wanuskewin heritage park got a financial gift from a Saskatoon couple Wednesday, which will expand the Indigenous art program and make it more accessible to more people into the future.

A donation of $675,000 was made by Olivia and Greg Yuel, which funded two new galleries at the park, as well as an artist-in-residence program. Greg Yuel says he and his wife Olivia want to support Indigenous artists through the donation, and help Wanuskewin’s bid to be a UNESCO world heritage site with the added programming. 

Greg Yuel is President of PIC Investment Group, and this Yuel family business has a long history of supporting growth in Saskatchewan.

“Our appreciation for the arts in general is rooted from within the process itself," Greg Yuel explained. "That a person can express themselves and share who they are or what they are thinking, so others may understand it and relate to that expression is incredible."

The Olivia & Greg Yuel Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Program is one-of-a-kind. Saskatchewan artist Leah Marie Dorian says this program will give young artists a chance to discover their gift in an expanded way.

“It’s going to bring life and creativity and action and diverse expression into the space," she told CTV News. "It’s a beautiful building. When the people are there doing things, with their hands sharing their art and telling the community what they’re doing and how their inspired, it brings the space alive."

Cultural advisor Mary Lee was on hand to share insight about the space. She was one of the first cultural advisors at Wanuskewin when it opened in 1992, helping to make a traditional tipi on site, and contributing her own beading for display, as well as providing extensive cultural support over the years. She says two new galleries that were opened, named after the Yuels and Lee, felt like the art in the space was telling her story, because she could see herself in the people in the photos and artwork.

 “We need to keep our art and way of sharing alive because it’s always been through singing and dancing and drawing our art,” Lee told CTV News.

National and international Indigenous artists will be brought in to mentor emerging artists and interact with the public in a way that aligns with Wanuskewin's mission of understanding and appreciating living Indigenous cultures through education and actionable reconciliation. Artists will be encouraged to explore the land, resources, and connections to grasslands ecology.

According to Greg Yuel, “Our collaboration with Wanuskewin is one of many efforts we've made to increase visibility of Indigenous artistic styles as they evolve and grow over time. Watercolor landscapes and traditional beadwork of Native Prairie flowers and animals are signature land-based imagery. We're excited to support these styles, and to see what new artistic styles emerge over the next 30 years.” Top Stories

Stay Connected