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2015 Thunder Bay Arts & Heritage Awards

The achievements and contributions of local artists, cultural professionals, organizations and businesses were celebrated at the City of Thunder Bay’s annual Arts & Heritage Awards, presented by the Walleye, on March 31, 2016 at the Finnish Labour Temple.

The year’s nominees represent a wide spectrum of Thunder Bay’s cultural sector from individual artists, theatre, film, music and historians to cultural business, educators, and supporters.

Awards included cash prizes and original works of art by local artists Lois Nuttall and boy Roland. The awards event also featured performances by the Damon Dowbak Trio and Greenbank.

Congratulations to all 31 nominees and 8 winners for their amazing contributions to the local creative sector.

The  Award Winners are:

Performing & Media Arts - $1000 Prize – Sponsored by the Walleye

Michelle Derosier photo

Michelle Derosier is a passionate, innovative storyteller and award-winning filmmaker, co-owner of Thunderstone Pictures and producer, director and writer of drama and documentaries. Her latest short, "The Grandfather Drum" premiered at the prestigious 2016 Sundance Film Festival. She has dozens of credits and over 10 years of dedicated film experience in our region. Michelle is a dedicated, professional filmmaker, who is helping to develop the film industry in Thunder Bay.


Visual - $1000 Prize

 Liz Buset PhotoElizabeth Buset is an artist, educator, mentor, and impactful creative force in the artistic community of Thunder Bay. As a high realism painter and printmaker, Buset seeks to integrate contemporary social, cultural, and ideological issues. She obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Lakehead University and Masters of Fine Arts from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Buset has exhibited locally, regionally, and internationally. She currently holds the position of Contract Lecturer with Lakehead University, sits on the Board of Directors at Definitely Superior Art Gallery, and is an artist mentor for the Die Active Art Collective.


Heritage – Cultural - $1000 Prize – Sponsored by WSP 

Marily Gundnski Photo After the success with Big Boreal Adventures Marilyn Grudniski who is the Program Director and developed the initiatives, saw an opportunity to create a series of three free historical walking tour adventure guidebooks. The books are designed as a self-guided tour around many significant area of the City of Thunder Bay. Each of the tours will take you through stories of the past and walk you through some of the neighborhoods you know, and some you may not have been through before. We are happy to acknowledge Marilyn for her commitment to the Big Boreal Adventure and the Big Boreal Goes Historical, for encouraging people to get outside, explore, have fun with family & friends, and learn historical sites in the City of Thunder Bay.


Heritage – Built - $1000 Prize – Sponsored by City oF Thunder Bay Heritage Advisory Committee

Excuria PhotoThis well-known landmark was built in 1898 for Sara Jane and George Coo, boasts original and distinctive architecture and is now home to the Excuria Gastro Pub. After 15 months of construction to preserve the building’s façade and interior staircase the Coo House transformation into Excuria was a tremendous undertaking. Chris Bernst and his family are to be commended for their work done to revitalize the Coo House, making it a functional part of the community while preserving its exterior architectural features.


Cultural Organization - $1000 Prize

Chaban Photo 1Chaban Ukrainian Dance Group has been an integral piece of the community fabric for 36 years. Like the Ukrainian embroidered cloth, the group has threaded cultural richness, artistic flair and boundless energy into the community. Chaban’s 100 members have heart, soul and passion for all things Ukrainian. Chaban embraces creativity in their choreography, concert themes and costumes at all their community presentations and performances.  


Cultural Educator - $1000 Prize

 Sam PhotoAs an arts educator and assistant professor at Lakehead University Sam Shahsahabi has mentored many students in Thunder Bay and contributes to their success by developing and organizing artist workshops, student exhibitions, art sales and outreach events. Outside his teaching experience, Sam has organized Faculty Exhibitions and maintains an active practice as a visual artist.



Large Business- Artist Commissioned Award


Red Lion LogoFrom the moment Red Lion Smokehouse opened its doors in 2014 the management and staff have been supporting Thunder Bay’s creative sector. The many cultural groups and activities they have supported include Thunder Bay Pipes & Drums, Definitely Superior Art Gallery’s Hunger and Urban In Fill, Brass Northwest, Superior Film Festival and Cambrian Players. Red Lion has created innovative events which all have loyal following including Pints & Poses, Spelling Bees, Pub Quiz Night and Live Music Fridays that provides local musicians a place to showcase their work.    Photo of Red lion and Artwork

Artwork for Large Business award
“Comatose” by boy Roland, mixed-media 3D cut out




Small Business – Artist Commissioned Award Sponsored by Weiler, Maloney, Nelson

AALU PhotoThe Thunder Bay Art Gallery is incredibly proud of their longstanding partnership with Alumni Association of Lakehead University. Their generous sponsorship of the Lakehead University Major Studio Show and Annual Juried Exhibition subsidized the costs related to installing and promoting these remarkable shows. The Alumni’s deep commitment to celebrating Lakehead University’s Visual Art graduates, and supporting the creative and vibrancy of our community is admirable and appreciated. 

“Coming Out” by Lois Nuttall, photograph printed on metalArtwork for Small Business Award 
“Coming Out” by Lois Nuttall, photograph printed on metal





For more information:
Kiri Butter - Culture Services Coordinator


Thank you to our Sponsors:

The Walleye logo   
WSP Sponsor Logo      Heritage Advisor Committee Logo     Sponsor logo



   Previous award winners

  • 2014 Award Winners 
  • 2013 Award Winners
  • 2012 Award Winners
  • 2011 Award Winners 
  • 2010 Award Winners
  • 2009 Award Winners
  • 2006 Award Winners
  • 2005 Award Winners
  • 2004 Award Winners
  • 2003 Award Winners