Wolves for a school whose sports teams are called Wolfpack.
The wolves also symbolize local Indigenous culture.
Armstrong’s Braden Kiefiuk of Majestic Metal Art was commissioned by Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops in collaboration with Kamloops-based L.A. West Associates landscape architects and project lead Christina Walkden to create a sculpture for the school’s east gate roundabout on University Drive.
Kiefiuk, 54, created three wolves, each forged of hundreds of pieces of hand-cut steel fur, and took a year to build. Each wolf sits on a boulder on the roundabout.
“I was put in contact with TRU to develop the roundabout and they asked for proposals for artwork,” said Kiefiuk, who moved to Armstrong with his family from Enderby, where he built steel grizzly and deer sculptures.
“I submitted three different designs. Their sports teams are called the Wolfpack and they wanted a wolf sculpture.”
These sculptures are the latest to join a growing gallery of public art on the TRU campus, located on the ancestral lands of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.
From afar, each wolf’s silhouette stands alert and poised. Closer up, their features become uniquely cunning and fierce. Meet Mélemsťye.
In Secwépemc oral history, the wolf – ’Mélemsťye’ in local Secwepemctsín dialect – teaches people to hunt and the important qualities a hunter needs to be successful.
The same qualities that make a successful hunter – patience, vigilance, alertness, teamwork and an understanding of the environment, among others – are also important for a successful student. Like the hunter, the student must devise a strategy to reach their end goal.
TRU president Brett Fairbairn hopes the community will find some inspiration in this 50th-anniversary installation, recognizing a need to celebrate where the university has been while acknowledging the difficulties faced today and where it needs to go in the future.
“Even though the format for our celebration is different than what we had anticipated, it remains important for TRU to celebrate and reflect upon the past 50 years and the next 50 years ahead,” said Fairbairn.
“We also acknowledge that Thompson Rivers University is not the first community of researchers, teachers, and learners on these lands.”
Kiefiuk uses round rod armatures to sculpt the shapes of his specialty – the iconic animals of North America – and then finishes them with hand-cut and formed pieces of steel that are left unpainted and exposed to the elements. All the hammer marks and welds remain visible in Kiefiuk’s work.
The TRU wolves use a special Corten steel made to show a full rust patina while never corroding.
“I tried to capture movement and the beautiful yet ominous look of the wolf,” said Kiefiuk.
The sculptures prowl a commanding location on University Drive, overlooking the city, rivers, and hills on one side and a newly completed nursing building and pedestrian bypass on the other.
Kiefiuk’s Majestic Mule Deer was originally installed along Highway 97A in Enderby before it was purchased by Argus Properties and moved to its head office in Kelowna.
His sow grizzly bear and cub that he unveiled at his home in 2014 now adorn the outside of the Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna. Kiefiuk also created a beautiful husky sculpture that sits in a hotel in Saskatoon near Husky Stadium, home of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.