At the heart of all Sister City programs is a twinning agreement, signed by the Mayors of each Sister City, confirming the commitment of each community to the program.


These exchanges promote:

  • cross-cultural understanding,
  • municipal and technical cooperation, and most importantly
  • economic development opportunities.

Sister Cities agree to send and receive delegations of various types, including political and business leaders, arts and cultural representatives, educators and technical experts.

Thunder Bay City Council has established a Twinning Relationship Policy and a Sister Cities Advisory Committee for the purpose of developing mutually beneficial economic and cultural interaction between communities. As economic development is the focus of Thunder Bay's program, municipal twinning provides an opportunity for both parties.

The City of Thunder Bay currently has five Sister Cities outside of Canada.

Our Sister Cities

The City of Thunder Bay has a number of Sister City arrangements with communities outside of Canada which include:

  • Duluth, Minnesota
  • Gifu City, Japan
  • Jiaozuo, China
  • Little Canada, Minnesota
  • Seinäjoki, Finland

The objectives of "Sister Cities" is to promote friendship, goodwill, education, economics and tourism between cities.

Duluth, Minnesota

In 1980, Thunder Bay linked with the port city of Duluth, population 85,000. Our common shipping heritage, cultural and geographical similarities, and close proximity made becoming Sister Cities natural. Thunder Bay and Duluth citizens regularly visit each other's communities for business or pleasure. A successful art exchange between the Tweed Museum of Art and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery was sponsored, in part, by the Sister City Committee.

Gifu, Japan

Our linkage with Gifu City, population 400,000, is a continuation of Thunder Bay's relationship with Yanaizu, Japan that began in 1998. Yanaizu merged into Gifu City in 2006. Gifu City has taken advantage of the surrounding natural resources to create both traditional industries including Mino washi and agriculture and tourism opportunities such as cormorant fishing. Gifu University for Education and Languages has been conducting annual student exchange programs with a focus on language and culture with Lakehead University in Thunder Bay since 1988. As well, high school students, citizens and dignitaries from both communities participate in regular exchanges.

Jiaozuo, China

In December 2015, a delegation from Thunder Bay and First Nation Communities visited Jiaozuo City, China, to further the intent of a sister cities agreement. On May 29, 2017, representatives from Jiaozuo City visited Thunder Bay. During this tour, a Sister City Agreement was signed. Located on the Yellow River and just south of the Taihang Mountain, Jiaozuo City has a population of 3,540,101 and is known as a centre for mining and education.

Watch the video documenting this cultural exchange in Jiaozuo:

Little Canada, Minnesota

In 1977, the City of Little Canada linked with Thunder Bay. Located north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, the community was founded in 1844 by a French-Canadian farmer, voyageur and trader, Benjamin Gervais. The city hosts an annual celebration called Canadian Days with Thunder Bay. Little Canada has 10,000 residents who enjoy a picturesque rural landscape surrounded by metropolitan activity from the nearby Twin Cities.

Seinäjoki, Finland

In 1974, Thunder Bay linked with its first Sister City, Seinäjoki, population 30,000. Located in the Southern Ostrobothnia district of Finland, Seinäjoki is an important regional centre for the arts, commerce and transportation. Seinäjoki is recognized globally for the cultural and administrative buildings designed by Alvar Aalto, considered among the five foremost architects of the 20th century. A large number of people from Seinäjoki have relocated to Thunder Bay, making our city one of the largest Finnish communities (possibly the largest) outside Finland.

Sister Cities Advisory Committee

Thunder Bay's Sister Cities program is supported by a Committee of volunteers called the Sister Cities Advisory Committee, which serves the goals and objectives of the program. The Committee was formed in December 2006 with a mandate to develop, implement and coordinate the Thunder Bay Municipal Twinning Program. The Committee meets monthly and reports to City Council through the Office of the City Clerk. Members serve staggered terms to ensure an overlap of four-year terms and continuity of experience.

The Committee members represent several sectors of the community including municipal government, education, arts and culture, business and citizen volunteers.

Sister Cities Advisory Committee & Bios

Mayor Bill Mauro

Mayor Bill MauroBill Mauro is the ninth Mayor of the City of Thunder Bay, as part of the 2018-2022 City Council.

Bill is a lifelong resident of Thunder Bay, and was elected as a Thunder Bay City Councillor in 1997 serving for two terms. During this time, he initiated the city physician recruitment program to bring doctors and specialists to Thunder Bay and has always made health care a priority.  From 2003 until 2018, he was the Member of Provincial Parliament for the Thunder Bay – Atikokan District. Bill also served as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

During his years as MPP for Thunder Bay – Atikokan and cabinet minister, Bill continued his health care efforts, delivering angioplasty with a further commitment for cardiac surgery to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Center, as well as delivering a Law School, Canadian content leading to hundreds of jobs at Bombardier, forestry supports and so much more.

Bill was educated at Lakehead University Teacher's College and has a degree in History from Lakehead.

Councillor Cody Fraser

Councillor Cody FraserCody Fraser was born and raised in Thunder Bay and is a proud graduate of Lakehead University (Honours Bachelor of Arts- Indigenous Learning 2016) and the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law (Juris Doctor 2019). In law school, he was selected by his peers to be the Valedictorian of the graduating class of 2019.

He is serving his first term on Thunder Bay City Council and is keen to serve the residents of Neebing Ward and Thunder Bay with a progressive and forward thinking approach to governance.

Cody is a practicing lawyer in the City of Thunder Bay where he works in multiple areas of law, focusing on real estate, wills and estates, Aboriginal law and corporate law.

Cody currently serves on the Community Communications Committee, Audit Committee, Sister Cities Advisory Committee, Anti-Racism & Respect Committee, Aboriginal Liaison Elders Advisory Council and the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium.

Councillor Peng You

Councillor Peng YouPeng has lived in Thunder Bay with his family for over twenty-five years and he calls the city his home now. Peng holds a Bachelor Degree and a Master Degree in Education, both from Beijing Normal University.

Peng has owned and operated two Chinese restaurants for twelve years before returning his professional career. He opened his own Peng You International Tai Chi Academy. He is also the funder and the president of The Peng You Taiji Quan Association. Through teaching the Chinese traditional martial arts - Tai Chi, Youlian promotes Tai Chi for Health, Friendship, and Happiness in and around the city.

Peng is also a tourism operator. He organizes travel groups to visit China and surrounding countries. He also works with local tourism and recreation sports operators to promote Thunder Bay. He has brought many Chinese visitors to the city in the past.

Matthew Villella (Chair)

Matthew VillellaMatthew is a 38-year-old lifelong resident of Thunder Bay. Matthew loves the City of Thunder Bay and is currently working hard to make this a better place to live. Matthew is a proud graduate of Lakehead University with his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education in 2005, and recently completed his Master’s in Education at Lakehead University in 2018.

Matthew is currently a professor in the Tourism, Travel and Eco-Adventure Program at Confederation College.  Previously Matthew worked at YES Employment Services for over 14 years as an Employment Counsellor and Workshop Facilitator.

Matthew believes in giving back to the community and has demonstrated this with his various volunteer and community development opportunities over the years.  He is currently Past President of Leadership Thunder Bay, Volunteer and Event Planner for Easter Seals Ontario Thunder Bay, and is proud to sit on the City of Thunder Bay's Sister Cities Advisory Committee.  During his time on this committee, Matt has participated in welcoming delegations from our sister cities and has participated in a couple of visits to our sister cites. Matthew was been part of the team that developed the now annual culinary exchange between Duluth and Thunder Bay.  Matthew is an advocate of strong relationships and works hard to promote Thunder Bay on any of his exchanges and works diligently to ensure Thunder Bay benefits from this program.

Matthew was honored to receive the Citizens of Exceptional Achievement Award from the City of Thunder Bay in 2014, and recently award the Community Champion Award in 2018 through the Northern Ontario Visionary Awards Top 20 under the age of 40. Matt is the VP of Public Relations for the President Distinguished Nanabijou 2090 Toastmaster Club and Past Division Director for Toastmasters and is now part of the Division officer training team..

Andrew Garro (Vice Chair)

Andrew was born and raised in Thunder Bay, ON. He is a graduate from Lakehead University with multiple degrees, including a Masters of Mathematical Sciences, a Bachelor of Education, as well as an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics/Social Sciences. Andrew has a proud record of academic achievement, and an ongoing commitment to learning.

At this point in time, Andrew holds multiple positions within the community. He is employed in the public sector, and also teaches evening classes at our local college. He dedicates an abundance of his time to volunteering. Andrew currently serves on three civic committees - the Sister Cities Advisory Committee (citizen representative), the Clean, Green, and Beautiful Advisory Committee (citizen representative), as well as the Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council (youth representative). He also holds numerous positions, including Chair, on many sub-committees.

Andrew firmly believes that a strong and vibrant community is one that has good jobs, stable employment, and an opportunity for professional growth and development. He is a self-described fiscal conservative, and keeps careful watch over tax payer dollars. When participating in Sister City events and exchanges, Andrew always ensures that the focus remains on economic development and investment in the local economy. 

Andrew Ault

Andrew AultAndrew is an MBA student in the Faculty of Business Administration at Lakehead University. In 2017, he graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs and Policy Analysis with High Distinction from Carleton University in Ottawa. Additionally, he also holds a Certificate in International Law and Politics from Queen’s Bader Centre of Herstomonceux, UK, where he attended for a study term abroad. As an aspiring scholar, Andrew has research interests in empirical corporate coverage, healthcare finance and public opinion. At present, he is currently researching the impact of blockchain technology on the agency problem in finance. With a strong passion for research, he hopes to embark on both MSc and PhD degrees in Finance, to become a Professor.

A young entrepreneur, Andrew is Partner to an innovative marketing firm and works at Lakehead University as a Teaching Assistant.  In summers of his undergraduate degree, he also held positions with Northern Policy Institute, the Government of Ontario and in marketing departments of various local businesses and non-profits. For his entrepreneurial efforts, he was awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 by the Sault Innovation Centre.

Throughout University, Andrew has been very active in student life, holding roles in Student Government, on various student societies and as a student representative for various University committees. Having attended school in Ottawa, he also volunteered in the offices of two Members of Parliament, and successfully competed internationally within the Model United Nations. Passionate about the City of Thunder Bay, he is now actively involved with Volunteer Thunder Bay, as Chair to the Lakehead Graduate Students’ Association, as serves on the Student Representative to the Lakehead Faculty of Business Graduate Studies Council and on the Sister Cities Advisory Committee. In addition, he also sits on various boards and non-profits located elsewhere in the north.

In his spare time, Andrew enjoys the Thunder Bay region’s unique culture and environment, such as skiing its pristine mountains, and taking in breathtaking scenery.

Hiroko Bekki-Moller

Hiroko Bekki-MollerHiroko has various International business experiences in her background. Hiroko was introduced on Bay View magazine.

Annually, Hiroko liaises with the City of Gifu to plan, arrange and take part in the Ringing of the Peace Bell Ceremony and ECE Teachers Exchange Program, and ECE Students Art Works Exchange.  She has connections to various communities in which she utilizes in order to contribute to events of the Sister Cities Advisory Committee for the City of Thunder Bay. Hiroko is also fluent in Japanese and is able to provide translation both in writing and in language. Her translation skills are appreciated and are utilized during delegation visits in order to better improve communications. Her knowledge of Japanese culture is also an integral part of her contributions to the community and to the Committee.

Miriam Wall

Miriam WallMiriam Wall was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland.  She gained an under-graduate degree at Trinity College, Dublin and a post-graduate degree at Edinburgh   University, Scotland.  She has lived and worked in various countries of Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean.  Miriam joined the faculty of International Business at Confederation College in 2002.  Since then, she has served as Program Coordinator, Director of International Education and now Dean, International Education.  She regularly represents the college and its academic interests at international venues. Miriam has led Confederation College in a variety of international activities including the implementation of several projects with both private and public sector partners abroad.

Thunder Bay has been home for more than 30 years, and Miriam and her family are avid outdoor enthusiasts (winter and summer). She is pleased to be an active member of the Sister Cities Advisory Committee and hopes that her love of the city and surrounding area, combined with her many connections abroad, will be helpful in advancing the Committee’s objectives.

Chris Krumpholz

Chris KrumpholzBorn in Thunder Bay in 1977, Chris began his community involvement as an altar server at St. Patrick's Cathedral where he spent most weekends serving weddings. Along with a long pedigree of involvements many will remember his time as stick boy/assistant trainer with the Thunder Bay Flyers 1989-90 - 1995-1996 seasons where he also was donned the suit of one of the Captain Flyers. During this time Chris was also involved as an assistant equipment manager with the professional hockey team that went under three identity changes (Thunder Hawks, Senators and Thunder Cats). It was during these years some major highlights came up as he assisted Team Canada during three exhibition games and via the Senators, worked one game and a practice with the Washington Capitals and a practice with the Ottawa Senators during a pre season pre Fort William Gardens renovation. 

Chris also worked with the Thunder Bay Whiskey Jack's from the Inaugural season in 1993-1995 where he met his favourite actor Bill Murray who was part owner of the St. Paul Saints. After graduating from St Patrick's high school in 1996 with OAC crests, he left to work with the Regina Cyclones pro baseball team. In high school, Chris learned values and team work with taking part in OSAID (Ontario students against impaired driving), a student buddy program, the Kids on the Block program, as well as a very brief time with the varsity hockey team as a goaltender. 

In 1997, Chris returned to visit his family and friends in Bavaria after a 7 year hiatus. During his 11 weeks he joined the volunteer fire department where he had taken part in training but was technically inactive. 

Returning home that fall, Chris would set up roots at Confederation College where he would obtain diplomas in Business-Marketing, International Business and International Business Management with a TEFL Certificate. While at Confederation College, Chris was a multiple time class Rep, a three time member of the business divisional Council, two time member of SUCCI as what was then the Director of Communications.  In his final year, he was elected by the entire student body (including the region) to represent them as the student Rep on the Board of Governors. 

After a long time working in the security industry with a focus on special events, Chris has spent much time in the Marketing and International Business fields in sales, promotion, public relations, retail and strategic planning. 

Chris also enjoys time in the Moose Legion as well as the Governor/President of Loyal order of Moose Port Arthur Lodge 947.  In non-Covid times, Chris can be found volunteering at events on behalf of the local UCT council. (United Commercial Travellers Association). 

Currently, Chris is the Chief Procurement Officer for Rep Security Inc. and a part-time professor at Confederation College's school of business. He is also the Chair of the Parking Authority Board, community member of the Anti-Racism and Respect Advisory committee and a member of their working group for Incident Reporting.


Stephen Margarit

Stephen MargaritStephen Margarit is a new addition to the Sister Cities Advisory Committee, having been appointed as a Citizen Representative in 2018. Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Stephen is a proud Lakehead University alumnus, graduating in 2013 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science. Prior to his post-secondary education, Stephen was an active member of the St. Patrick school community. 

Upon his graduation from secondary school, Stephen completed a 1-year Rotary Youth Exchange in the town of Pfullingen in Southwestern Germany. During his experience, Stephen developed an appreciation and understanding of the culture and history of the area as well as learning the German language. Throughout his exchange, Stephen travelled across Europe and developed a passion for cooking, baking and hiking.

Stephen has previously worked at Bombardier Transportation as the Administration and Communications Coordinator for over 3 years. Before his time in the private sector, Stephen diligently worked as a Constituency Assistant to MPP Michael Gravelle. His positions have given him the opportunity to develop an extensive network within our great city and region.

Community involvement is important to Stephen and he is a dedicated community leader volunteering with many organizations in Thunder Bay for many years. He has been a member of the Fort William Rotary Club since 2014 and was President during the 2019-2020 term. He has also been a Director on the George Jeffrey Children’s Foundation Board since 2017. Stephen firmly believes in giving back and regularly volunteers at the RFDA and Shelter House. 

Carol Pollard

Carol PollardCarol Pollard, born and raised in Northwestern Ontario, has called Thunder Bay home since 2000.  Carol attended University of Western Ontario (Public Administration), and University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management (Director Education Program).  Carol holds ICD.D, Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA) and Certified Municipal Manager (CMMIII) designations.

As a seasoned professional accountant, Carol has a broad range of public and non-profit experience and extensive strategic and senior operational leadership as a Chief Financial Officer.  After a successful career in the public sector, she is now CFO for a mid sized private sector firm. 

In a volunteer capacity, Carol has worked with many non-profit organizations to make a difference. Her most extensive experience has been as a Friendly Visitor, with the United Way (various roles including Board Director, Campaign Team, Campaign Chair, and Allocations Committee), in addition to leading the Municipal Division Campaign for fifteen years.  She is currently on the Board of Directors of the Dew Drop Inn, Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Alzheimer Society - Thunder Bay.  Carol also has international volunteer experience with Habitat for Humanity – Global Villages.  Carol is a newly appointed member to the Sister Cities Advisory Committee.

In her down time. Carol values family time with her four children and three grandchildren, and enjoys running, hiking, biking, walking her dog, gardening, cooking, travelling, and attending concerts.

Piero Pucci

Piero PucciPiero Pucci was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. His family has strong roots in Italy as his parents are first generation Italian Immigrants. He has lived in many parts of Canada but returned home, where he now lives with his wife and family.

Piero attended Lakehead University and holds an Honours Bachelor Degree in Political Studies and History. He is also a graduate of Confederation College with a Post-Diploma in International Business and Trade. He holds a Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo.

In the early years of his career, he worked for Confederation College in Poland and Ukraine as a consultant and instructor.  After returning to Canada, He got a job with Scotiabank managing Small Business accounts, where he worked for 10 years.

He is now the Supervisor of Economic Development with the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission and is responsible for Business Retention and Expansion, Immigration, Start Ups and the knowledge economy. 

Richard Longtin

Richard LongtinRichard Longtin brings a comprehensive and unique set of skills, expertise and experience to the Sister Cities Advisory Committee. He has previously worked with elected officials at Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park, and has spent over a decade in a government relations capacity inspiring investment and building partnerships with alumni, donors, corporations, foundations and governments at all levels.

Richard is currently the Director of Government Relations for Lakehead University. He works with all three levels of government to advance student support, research and innovation, Indigenization and reconciliation, community development and academic programming. Richard completed his undergraduate degrees in History and Political Science and Masters of Education at Lakehead University. Richard is currently pursuing a PhD in Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at the University of Toronto and has attained his certified fundraising professional designation.

He enjoys travelling, reading and spending time with his friends and family. Richard is also a Board Trustee of the Royal Ontario Museum, along with a Director with Town Gown Association of Ontario and the Thunder Bay Museum Board of Directors.


Ms. Tina Larocque, Coordinator - Boards, Committees & Special Projects, Office of the City Clerk is the administrative support for the Committee.

For more information about the Sister Cities Program, please contact the Office of the City Clerk at 625-2230.

Twinning Criteria & Policy

City Council will consider Twinning relationships when the following criteria can be met:

  1. Identified similarities and shared characteristics or interests between Thunder Bay and the candidate community
  2. Identified community interest in a relationship from citizens, business community and cultural groups in Thunder Bay identified potential cultural, educational and economic exchanges and interaction between Thunder Bay and the candidate community
  3. Other factors that may affect a decision to twin will include:
  • location and regional proximity of existing twinned communities
  • the number of twinning relationships in place
  • ability, within existing resources, to maintain the relationships with exchange visits at least once in every five years
  • participation in sponsored programs from agencies such as CIDA, CUSO, etc.

The Sister Cities Advisory Committee will evaluate requests to establish twinning relationships, and present its recommendations on the number and selection of sister cities to City Council through an Administrative Corporate Report.


Contact Us