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2010 Nominees

Thank-you to everyone who submitted nominations for the 2010 Thunder Bay Arts & Heritage Awards! This year, 26 nominations were submitted across 10 categories to recognize the individuals, groups, and business that have contributed to the cultural sector through extraordinary achievements and/or support.  Here are the distinguished nominees:


Keith Ailey is a visual artist, passionate art teacher at Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute, and proud Lakehead University graduate. His passion for the outdoors is visible in his original paintings, and Keith's stunning art and dedication earned him a Trustee Recognition Award from Lakehead Public Schools and the People's Choice Award from Thunder Bay Art Gallery's Regional Juried Exhibition. Keith's artistic talent and efforts to give back to the community make him a role model to his students, colleagues, and the arts community. 

Biljana Baker is a talented, professional artist and gifted educator, well-known for her mastery of the technically demanding field of landscape water colour painting. Biljana facilitates other artists through part-time instruction at Confederation College, Learning Through the Arts, and the 55+ Centre. Biljana's exemplary community service includes developing a program at St. Joseph's Health Centre for local artists to display art, donating works of art for fundraising events, and participating on a number of past and current boards to better our community.

Monica Belluz, an accomplished artist with mature talent, has been teaching art to children and adults for the past 13 years. Monica has displayed work in a variety of museums and galleries including the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Definitely Superior Art Gallery, Thunder Bay Museum (including backdrop designs), Magnus Theatre, and the Lake of the Woods Museum.  Monica was the recipient of the 2008 Helen Reith Award at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition, and has selflessly given back to the community by donating art to support local charities.

Christian Chapman is an accomplished young artist and role model for both youth and established professionals in the arts community. Christian has exhibited extensively throughout the region, including work in the Permanent Collection of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and as an Artist in Residence at the Banff Centre (2009). Christian was commissioned by the Chiefs of Ontario to paint a portrait of Elijah Harper, and is well-known for his effective mixed-media work and advocacy of the arts throughout the region.  

Peter Humeniuk has been a professional artist in both oil and watercolour for over 50 years. An advocate for the arts, Peter ran the Brodie Street Art Gallery for nearly 25 years, and has now moved to the Lake Superior Art Gallery in Victoriaville Centre where he instructs other artists on watercolour techniques through lessons and workshops. Peter's work often depicts stunning scenes of Lake Superior shores from the Thunder Bay area to Duluth, Minnesota. Peter has also helped numerous charities by providing paintings for fundraising efforts.


performing & media art

Lee Chambers is a well-respected filmmaker and instructor for the Confederation College Film Department. Lee has developed an award-winning track record of presenting professional and educational film workshops at film festivals, media colleges and universities on a local, national, and international scale. Lee attracted international attention with his 'Make It Short' Film Project, a mix between a professional shoot and a mentoring program that offers real film set experience and education on the art of film and video production for over 350 participants.

Steve Dafoe is an accomplished musician/songwriter with 23 albums to his name. His songs, "Desert Sun" and "You Are the One" garnered international attention as the top two Folk Finalists in the MTV-VH1's Song of the Year Contests in 2004 and 2008. He has won a total of 12 Director's Awards for song-writing from the Paramount Group (Nashville) and his works have appeared in both Israeli and Canadian film productions. Steve has also volunteered his time and talents for several community groups such as George Jeffrey Children's Centre and the United Way.

Karina Long is a seasoned performer whose musical talents have been showcased locally, nationally, and internationally. Karina is well-known for writing and publishing country music and healing songs, and was the recipient of a Nashville Song Writing Award in 2002. Performing alongside Bobo the Clown as part of the children's entertainment duo called the "Tune-a-tics", Karina donates countless hours to the community, entertaining at children's wards in hospitals and fundraising events across the region.

Matt Popowich is an emerging filmmaker and producer-director of Westfort Films. Matt is well-known for his recent production of Jordan Burnell's music video, entitled “My Hometown”, set to stunning images from around the city as a creative interpretation of local identity and culture. The video quickly became a YouTube sensation, sparking community pride across all ages. Matt has also produced a number of videos strengthening the work of Redwood Park Church's youth programming, and hopes to pursue a career in filmmaking.



The Thunder Mountain Singers are international recording artists from Thunder Bay, who have traveled throughout North America over the past 20 years with inspiring performances that express traditional teachings and educate audiences on First Nation heritage. The late Margaret Pierre gave the group its drum name and envisioned that through the drum, the First Nation youth would return to their traditional culture. The group has served as the Host Drum for numerous communities and plays a key role in revitalizing heritage and culture in First Nation communities throughout the city and region.



Willow Springs Creative Centre is a non-profit organization with creative-based programming for people of all ages. Grown out of the Willow Springs Artisan Gift Store and Studio in 2006, the organization also provides therapeutic gardening for youth and adults facing all types of challenges. Their contribution to groups such as the Ontario March of Dimes, Sister Margaret Smith Centre, and Mushkiki Health Centre is inspiring, bringing value and creativity by hiring local artists to develop healing programs and promote personal growth.



Brandi Fiala has begun to develop an impressive portfolio as an emerging artist and student at Westgate Collegiate & Vocational Institute. She is admired by her peers and teachers as an exceptional artist with a unique talent and willingness to help other students grow as artists too. Brandi's art been chosen to display her art at the annual High School Art Show at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery for the past three years. 

Jenna Gibbons is an exemplary art student at Westgate Collegiate & Vocational Institute. Her teachers admire her ability to manipulate media into beautiful works of art comes naturally, and she has exhibited work at the Secondary School Art Show at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and in the hall display cases of her school. Jenna has been accepted to the Arts Program at Ryerson University to pursue higher education and a career in the arts, and hopes to return to establish herself in Thunder Bay.

Jason Miller, a 12-year-old visual artist and accomplished drummer with incredible maturity, has already built up an extensive portolio of art and professionally-recorded CD's of songs that he played on and co-wrote. He won the Grade 3 Award for Creativity in Memory of Maureen Desimone, top rankings at the C.L.E. Youth Artist Contest, and his art was featured in the Robert Bateman 'Get-to-Know Calendar'. Jason generously gives back at fundraising events and takes part in the Superior Rock Camp to expand his skills as a performing artist.

Michelle Kivi is an gifted, emerging artist and senior student at Hammarskjold High School, who is very involved in the local arts community. Michelle volunteers in her school's art department and her work has been shown consistently in local juried student art shows at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Her designs were selected and shown at Marina Park for the Waterfront Banner Project, and her senior portfolio has secured her acceptance to the Fine Arts Program at Lakehead University. Michelle is considering a career in art therapy or arts education.

Olivia Korkola is a 16-year-old classical violinist and exceptional fiddle player, with first music CD set to be released in June 2010. Aside from performing regularly as a member of the Thunder Bay Symphony Youth Orchestra and Kam Valley Fiddlers, Olivia has been invited to perform and record alongside many internationally-known artists including Pierre Schryer, Brenda Stubbart, and Ashley MacIsaac. Olivia has donated over 600 volunteer hours by playing for local community groups and her recent awards include Gold, Silver, and a Medal of Excellence in the Lakehead Festival of Music and Arts, and Minnesota State Old Time Fiddle Champion in 2009.

Laura Tian, a gifted artist and student in the International Baccalaureate Programme at Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate & Vocational Institute, demonstrates outstanding talent with unique style and an interest in all aspect and mediums. Through her mature portfolio, Laura demonstrates an ability to challenge the artistic traditions that she studies. Laura regularly volunteers to paint murals and design backdrops for events at her high school, leads craft activities with children, and has painted for the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital.



Roland (Roly) Martin is a professional arts educator employed by the Lakehead University's Department of Visual Arts. In his capacity as assistant professor, he has facilitated learning for students pursuing studies in design, sculpture and studio thesis. For over sixteen years, Roly has demonstrated solid and passionate commitment to delivering stimulating lessons that far exceed student expectations. Roly has served on committees for the betterment of the community and donates highly valued art work to support fundraising activities of art institutions.

Hugh MacDonald, retired instructor for Confederation College and Minister of the United Church of Canada, has made a special contribution to the community, having taught courses on the arts of Western Civilization, Religion and Ethics, and Music Appreciation. Hugh wrote a successful book entitled "A Man Who Made a Difference", along with several student texts, and had a unique teaching style that engaged students across all subjects. Highly involved in the community, Hugh formerly acted as President of the Lakehead Music Festival, and on the Board of Directors for the Thunder Bay Symphony and Thunder Bay Art Gallery.

Olga Medvedeva is a dedicated violin teacher and professional musician. For the past ten years, Olga has been devoted to helping students develop technical and artistic skills and mature in their studies. Olga played a key role in expanding the strings portion of the Lakehead Music Festival since moving to Thunder Bay, and many of her students compete every year at the Provincial Final Competition. Her dedication to music education has contributed to the enhancement, promotion, and appreciation of music among emerging youth artists.

Christie Parry joined the Thunder Bay Historical Museum nearly seven years ago and has exhibited constant innovation in her teaching style and program offerings for school children, local seniors and community groups. Christie's effort to educate others on the value of arts and heritage in our daily lives is remarkable, and she has certainly made an impressive contribution to the museum and local school boards by revitalizing the children's programming to fit the new Ontario Curriculum.



Fran Loney volunteers tirelessly to support and promote the value of local heritage at the Founders' Museum. Since 1999, Fran has dedicated approximately 4,000 volunteer hours per year as the unpaid Manager of the museum. Under Fran's administration, the Founders' Museum has expanded significantly, not only physically with added buildings and exhibits, but in resources including programming, advertising, and administrative capacity. Fran works diligently to ensure that audiences of all ages can appreciate and take part in a unique experience of local heritage.  



The Ahnisnabae Art Gallery was founded in 1997 by the late Roy Thomas. Roy's wife, Louise Thomas, has since expanded from Roy's studio to a gallery that showcases work from various Aboriginal youth and established artists as a way of honouring her husband's legacy and commitment to traditional teachings.  Louise was awarded the NeeChee Achievement Award at the 2008 NADF Business Awards in Timmons, Ontario, and the Career Guidance Award at the 2009 Northwestern Ontario Aboriginal Youth Achievement & Recognition Awards in Thunder Bay.



The Chronicle-Journal has been a significant contributor and supporter of arts and heritage in Thunder Bay for decades, and played a major role in developing and sponsoring the Chronicle-Journal Prizes for Arts & Heritage (now evolved into the Thunder Bay Arts & Heritage Awards). Additional contribution to the cultural sector includes sponsorship for the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, and continuous financial and in-kind support for numerous community groups and events. The Chronicle-Journal, under the management of Colin Bruce, generously and continuously contributes to the promotion of local arts and heritage, and plays a key role in elevating the profile of the local cultural sector. 



The Painted Turtle Art Shop is a long-standing business in Thunder Bay, spoken highly of throughout the arts community. Formerly owned by local artist Ruth Tye McKenzie, the Painted Turtle is now owned and operated by businesswomen and artists, Lorraine Cull and Angela Jansen, and is comprised of an art supplies shop, the Rainge Gallery and an art class studio space, all adding to the culture of city's north downtown core. The gallery and studio space exhibits local and regional artists' work and offer fine arts classes featuring local artists and programming for children. Both Angela and Lorraine have been highly involved in initiatives such as Art Zoom, Harbour Arts Festival, and Art in the Park at the Summer in the Parks concert series, thanks to the success of their business.

The Picture Store was established 17 years ago by owner Lucio Coppola in response to the need for a framing and framed art shop in Thunder Bay. The Picture Store has grown in recent years to offer artists a venue to display their work and offer affordable framing for clientele. The store also supports programming for incarcerated youth by offering discounted framing for their work. Currently, the Picture Store hosts exhibitions for groups including the Watercolour Society, Northern Images, 55 Plus Ladies, Lakehead Visual Arts, and Local Colour. Local Colour is also the name of the new creative centre and extension of the Picture Store opening soon on Cumberland Street, to host a gallery of local artists' work, workshops, classes, and studio space.