The Thunder Bay Arts & Heritage Awards is a yearly gala event held by the City. It celebrates local individuals, groups and businesses involved with arts and heritage. Award categories represent a wide spectrum of Thunder Bay's cultural sector from music, film, stage performance, literature, visual arts, photography and heritage to cultural organizations, venues, events, volunteers and supporters.


The City of Thunder Bay is proud to announce the recipients of the 9th Annual Thunder Bay Arts & Heritage Awards:

Congratulations to all of the Nominees and recipients of the 9th Annual Arts and Heritage Awards.

 group of award winners standing on a stage

Photo credit: Kirvan Photography

The red carpet was rolled out for the 9th Annual Thunder Bay Arts & Heritage Awards, presented By Copperfin Credit Union, on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at Magnus Theatre. The reception was catered by Pinetree Catering and the awards gala celebrated 40 nominees in 11 categories with performances by the LockyerBoys, Amiah Vahjine, Janis Swanson and the Martin Blanchet Jazz Quintet.

After Party was hosted by TBShows at Red Lion Smokehouse and featured Chris Talarico and James Boraski.

 Music - Sponsored by TBShows



group of three men presenting an award to three band members on stage 



Greenbank (Jimmy Breslin and Craig Smyth)

Loose Cannon

Mary McGhee – Thunder Bay Community Choir

LockyerBoys - Will and Charlie Lockyer

Sektion – Jay Schaaf

 Film - Sponsored by CEDC


Curtis Jensen

man presenting another man with award on stage 



Jack Belhumeur


 Visual Arts - Sponsored by the Public Art Committee


Robyn Chikane

two women presenting a third individual with an award with band in background on stage



Brian Nieminen

Michael O’Connor


 Stage Performance - Sponsored by Magnus Theatre


Cortney Kennedy

man presenting an award to performer on stage 



Aleksa Shermack

Annette Pateman

Badanai Theatre

Les Miserables by All the Daze Productions

 Cultural Organization of the Year



woman accepting an award on stage at podium 



Community Arts & Heritage Project (CAHEP)

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 5

Paramount Live

Algoma House

Raag Rung Music Circle

 Cultural Sponsor of the Year


The Waterfront District BIA

man presenting award to woman on stage



The Chronicle Journal


 Cultural Festival or Event of the Year


Doors Open Thunder Bay

Drag queen presents award to woman on stage 




Vox Popular Media Arts Festival

Northwest Film Fest – North of Superior Film Association

 Cultural Professional of the Year


Judy Czank-Mayor

Individual presenting award to another individual



Spencer Hari

 Achievement – Built Heritage


Lakehead Transportation Museum Society – Alexander Henry

man presenting another man with award on stage 



Friends of Chippewa Park - Carousel Restoration Committee/Project

 Achievement – Outstanding Youth


Robyn Chikane

young person at podium speaking and accepting an award



LockyerBoys – Will and Charlie Lockyer

Katelyn Luoma

 Achievement – Lifetime/Professional


Mark Nisenholt

person at podium speaking and accepting award 


Bonnie McNulty

individual presenting another individual with an award on stage



Damon Dowbak

Mary McGhee

John Forget

 Photo credits: Kirvan Photography


Help celebrate those who work, volunteer and contribute to the arts, culture and heritage in Thunder Bay with a nomination for one of the 9th Annual Arts and Heritage Awards. Nominate an individual, group, organization or local business in one of the sixteen categories. Complete details on eligibility and how to submit will be added here once available.

Sponsor an Award

For more information about sponsoring an award, contact the Cultural Development, Community Programming and Events Supervisor.

Past Winners

8th Annual Award Winners

The City of Thunder Bay's 8th Annual Arts & Heritage Awards were held Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 at Magnus Theatre, presented by Copperfin Credit Union

winners at the 8th annual Arts and Heritage Awards

Credit: Alan Dickson Photography

The winners of the 8th Annual Thunder Bay Arts & Heritage Awards.


Music - Sponsored by TBShows

Thunder Bay Community Band


Visual Arts - Sponsored by the Public Art Committee

Michel Dumont


Stage Performance - Sponsored by Magnus Theatre

Candi Badanai


Literature - Sponsored by CBC Thunder Bay

Jean E. Pendziwol


Heritage - Sponsored by the Heritage Advisory Committee

World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project


Cultural Organization - Sponsored by Copperfin Credit Union

Cambrian Players


Cultural Sponsor of the Year - Sponsored by Thunder Bay CEDC

Bay Credit Union


Cultural Venue of the Year

Maple Tops Paramount Theatre


Cultural Festival or Event of the Year



Cultural Professional of the Year - Sponsored by Copperfin Credit Union

Marcia Arpin


Achievement - Cultural Volunteer

Heather Dickson


Outstanding Youth Achievement - Sponsored by CBC Thunder Bay

Micah Pawluk


Lifetime Achievement - Sponsored by Weilers Law

Fay Steadwell



7th Annual Award Winners

Music - Sponsored by

The Honest Heart Collective


Film - Sponsored by Thunder Bay CEDC

Ron Harpelle


Visual Arts - Sponsored by the Public Art Committee

Julie Cosgrove


Stage Performance - Sponsored by Magnus Theatre

Colin Stewart


Heritage - Sponsored by WSP

Paul Morralee


Cultural Organization - Sponsored by Theymedia

Neechee Studio


Cultural Sponsor of the Year

Signal Resources


Cultural Venue of the Year

Red Lion Smokehouse


Cultural Festival or Event of the Year

Urban Infill


Cultural Professional of the Year- Sponsored by Copperfin Credit Union

Jason Wellwood


Cultural Volunteer of the Year - Sponsored by Copperfin Credit Union

Donna Paterson


Lifetime Achievement - Sponsored by Weilers Law

Ruth Tye McKenzie


Built Heritage Achievement - Sponsored by the Heritage Advisory Committee

Urban Abbey


Outstanding Youth Achievement - Sponsored by CBC Thunder Bay

Riley Yesno


Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor Copperfin Credit Union


And to our Event Sponsors CBC Thunder Bay and Magnus Theatre


2015 Award Winners

Performing and Media Arts - Michelle Derosier

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 Arts - Elizabeth Buset

Elizabeth 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.


Cultural Heritage - Marilyn Grudinski

Sponsored by WSP

Marilyn Grudinski - 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 neighbourhoods 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.


Built Heritage - Excuria Gastro Pub

Sponsored by City of Thunder Bay Heritage Advisory Committee

This 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 - Chaban Ukrainian Dance Group

Chaban 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 - Sam Shahsahabi

As 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 - Red Lion Smokehouse

From 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. 

Boy Roland standing with their Artwork called Comatose




An artist was commissioned to create this award. Artwork for the Large Business award (pictured) is "Comatose" by boy Roland, mixed media 3D cut out


Small Business -Thunder Bay Art Gallery

Sponsored by Weiler, Maloney, Nelson

The 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.

Lois Nuttall standing with her artwork called Coming Out




An artist was commissioned to create this award. Artwork for the Small Business Award (pictured) is "Coming Out" by Lois Nuttall, photograph printed on metal.

2014 Award Winners

Performing & Media Arts - Lawrence Badanai

Sponsored by: The Walleye

Since a young age, Lawrence Badanai has been involved in the performing arts community in Thunder Bay.  In 2014 he celebrated a milestone of independently producing Thunder Bay theatre for 15 years and has become a leader of local entertainment.  His recent production of "You'll Get Used To It: The War Show" broke Cambrian Players box office records.


Visual Arts - Elliott Doxater-Wynn

Elliott Doxtater-Wynn has made Thunder Bay his home for the past 17 years. During this time he has widely exhibited his artwork locally, regionally, and nationally, including the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Lakehead University, Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Aboriginal HeadStart and Aboriginal Arts and Craft Show.  His artwork is always culturally relevant and demonstrates his deep knowledge, pride and respect for his culture.


Built Heritage -Rhea and Phil Crookundertook fo 317 Victoria Ave.

Sponsored by CBC Radio 88.3 fm

In 2007, Rhea and Phil Crookundertook the restoration of the office building at 317 Victoria Ave.  Seeing the "diamond in the rough" of this landmark, the Crook's brought back the original features that have long been buried within the building's walls.  The restoration project reflects their dedication and commitment of time, energy and resources. 


Cultural Heritage - Dr. A. Ernest Epp

Sponsored by City of Thunder Bay Heritage Advisory Committee

Dr. A. Ernest (Ernie) Epp is a well-known Canadian historian, former politician, and retired Lakehead University professor with a strong interest of our city's history, Aboriginal history, the environment, local culture, Canadian multiculturalism, the industrial and fur trade history of Northwestern Ontario.  Over the years he has shared his passion by teaching and publishing numerous books and articles on these themes. 


Organization - Superior Chorus

Sponsored by Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel & Suites

In 2014 Sounds of Superior Chorus celebrated "40 Years of Harmony" in Thunder Bay with their dedication to providing the best quality cappella singing barbershop style.  The Chorus produces 2 major shows a year and has made a commitment to young women in harmony by providing education, music, performance opportunities, expertise and financial support to teachers and students.


Outstanding Youth Contributor To The Arts - Olivia Amoah

Sponsored by: FORM Architecture Engineering

Since Olivia Amoah was a child she has loved to draw.  This past summer she volunteered at Definitely Superior Art Gallery and the Kita-Kon convention.  In addition, she was given the opportunity to paint the gallery walls with her own original art for the BIGGI art exhibition. In the past the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Saint Ignatius High School have exhibited her art and she regularly assists with sculpting and art classes throughout the city.


Cultural Educator - Lora Northway

Sponsored by Recreation & Culture Division, City of Thunder Bay

Lora Northway has dedicated her time and talents to developing and expanding the cultural landscape of Thunder Bay.  In addition to being a pivotal force in the ongoing success and growth of Definitely Superior Art Gallery, Lora is an important mentor for many young and emerging artists.  She created and coordinates Die Active, a forum for young artist to meet and connect. With 450 members, Die Active is now the largest youth art collective in Canada.  Seeing an opportunity to address the empowerment and restorative needs of the aboriginal youth living in Thunder Bay, Lora also organizes the successful Neechee Studios.


Small Business - CommuniTea and Coffee Shop

Sponsored by Weiler, Maloney, Nelson

CommuniTea and Coffee Shop is a new business that is passionate about supporting local arts and creating a thriving community in the heart of Westfort.  To achieve this, they've dedicated a room for local artists to exhibit their works with no commission on the art that is sold.  In addition, they hosted a networking event for artists, artisans and creative minds to come together in one place and experience the welcoming environment that CommuniTea and Coffee Shop provides.

2013 Award Winners

Performing & Media Arts - Shayne Ehman

Shayne Ehman has been a practicing artist for over 15 years in mediums such as animation, poetry, drawing, zines and film sound, and has shown internationally as a visual artist and media artist. Shayne's film, "Asphalt Watches", co-produced with fellow film maker, Seth Scriver, won Best First Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival and is included in TIFF Canada's Top 10 films. Shayne has participated in community events such as WinterFest and the Bay Street Film Festival. From his basement in Thunder Bay, Shayne produces artwork that is internationally acclaimed.


Visual Arts - Jean Marshall

Jean Marshall is an Ojibwe artist, curator, scholar and supporter of the arts in Northwestern Ontario. Jean has been practicing as a professional artist for the past 10 years. She is known for her work with natural materials such as birch bark, porcupine quills and pine needles. As an artist, she has exhibited locally, regionally and nationally. In 2012 Jean received the prestigious K M Hunter Award. Jean has been on the roster for the Learning Through the Arts program and has instructed the Native Arts and Crafts course at Lakehead University. She is also one third of the Anemki Art Collective. In 2014 Jean was part of an exhibition at Definitely Superior Art Gallery and attended a thematic artist in residence program at the Banff Centre in Alberta.


Built Heritage - Liana and Rob Frenette

Liana and Rob Frenette share a passion for restoration and preservation of historic buildings and local heritage within Thunder Bay. In addition to their family home Windrose, a restored Queen Anne Revival style home dated 1910-1912, and their family business at the Paterson Property TBT Engineering Ltd, a refurbished property dating from 1908, the Frenette's have begun restoration of another character home at 411 Catherine Street. The Frenette's are very welcoming to the public and host visits of their properties for special occasions and also for nationwide heritage events such as Doors Open. Throughout both of their restoration projects the Frenette's have made exceptional efforts to employ local contractors, carpenters and traditional craftsmen and to purchase materials from local suppliers. They continue to consider, cultural and community significance in any initiative they undertake.


Cultural Heritage - Robert Neff

Robert Neff has been a tireless supporter of heritage in Thunder Bay and a member of the Thunder Bay Historical Society since the mid 1970's. He served as its President from 1986-1989, when he played an active role on the Society's New Museum Committee, then engaged in planning for the creation of a new museum building for Thunder Bay. Rob is perhaps best known for being the creator of the "Flashback" series in 1976, a weekly local history column in the Lakehead Living newspaper. In 2013 Rob capped published the book Flashback: Reflections of our Gloried Past, containing 64 examples of past articles representing a selection of the more than 1000 newspaper columns that were published in over 30 years.


Cultural Organization - CAHEP Community Arts and Heritage Education Project

The Community Arts and Heritage Education Project (CAHEP), is an active organization which operates to increase cultural and artistic opportunities to youth through the city. CAHEP provides volunteers for after-school and weekend programming, and participates in initiatives and committees such as the Thunder Bay Youth Strategy, Community Coalition Unified for the Protection of Children and Youth, and the Youth Centre Advisory Committee. Their ten years of contributions to the community have been a dedication of their passion and commitment for creating cultural and artistic opportunities for youth in the community.


Outstanding Youth Contributor to the Arts -Carly Irrgang

Carly Irrgang is a very talented young woman who received the Principal's Choice Award upon completion of grade 8 as well as awards in social science, math, technologies and visual arts at the High School level. She has been a co-op student at the Painted Turtle Art Shop where she proved to be invaluable. From that co-op "Yes Employment" was approached to provide further funding for a summer position for Carly at the new Baggage Building Arts Centre. Carly enjoys assisting with programming and planning for special events, helping with tasks such as prop building and preparing artistic materials for kids' activities. Carly has given her time beyond her paid hours to ensure the success of any activity she assists with.


Cultural Educator - Claudia Otta

For over 30 years Claudia Otto has been working as a gifted Choreographer, Educator and Artistic Director. She received her Royal Conservatory Level III Artist/ Mentor Certificate and has accumulated extensive dance training in modern, classical and creative movement while studying in Toronto and in Berkeley, New York. Claudia has been an Artist Educator with the "Learning Through the Arts" program for eleven years providing alternative forms of learning. She works with vulnerable populations and collaborates with other artists in the community to engage participants in multidisciplinary forms. Using creative movement Claudia engages participants to reclaim their sense of self-esteem, confidence and hope. Much of Claudia's work is done on a volunteer basis.


Cultural Supporter - Michael Sobota

Michael Sobota is an active theatre director, community activist and community builder. He often conscientiously writes reviews and articles about the arts in Thunder Bay. Michael has directed, TAPE, from New Noise Productions which played out in real time.


Cultural Business - Gallery 33, Hannah Johnson

Gallery 33 is an excellent example of a local cultural sector business that has demonstrated creative originality and innovation, community involvement and dedication to the development of the cultural sector in Thunder Bay.


Small Business - Philpot & Delgaty Insurance Services

Philpot & Delgaty Insurance Services has gone above and beyond to provide support for local artists, organizations and events. In 2014 they continued to support the arts in their 19th year as sponsors of the Lakehead University Major Studio and Annual Juried Exhibition. This longstanding commitment to the Gallery and to Lakehead University's visual arts graduates is admirable and deeply appreciated.


Large Business - The Chronicle Journal

The Chronicle Journal has been supportive of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery for many years, and has been a seasoned sponsor since 2007. They have provided invaluable in-kind advertising support for the gallery. This essential partnership has enabled the Thunder Bay Art Gallery the ability to maximize a limited marketing budget and keep the community well informed about all of the Gallery's exhibitions, programs, and special events.

2012 Award Winners

Performing & Media Arts - Jean E. Pendziwol

Jean E. Pendziwol is a writer who has tapped into the cultural and historical influences of the region as inspiration for her children's books. She has had the wonderful opportunity to speak in classrooms and present a number of workshops provincially and nationally discussing the craft of writing as well as exploring fur trade history with students of all ages. By theming her stories and presenting them in picture book form, she has expanded a limited library of fictional resources highlighting Lake Superior, Fort William, and Northwestern Ontario. These stories are valuable for the development and growth of children here and throughout the country, while at the same time they offer an enjoyable cultural experience to the mature reader. Jean in is inspiring would-be writers in the region who are sustained by her talent, enthusiasm, generosity, and commitment to her art.


Visual Arts - Stephanie Siemieniuk

Stephanie Siemieniuk obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Lakehead University, concentrating on painting in acrylics, watercolours and oils, and later moved to Toronto to study illustration and cartooning at George Brown College. She returned to Thunder Bay to pursue her Honours and Bachelor Education degrees. She has exhibited extensively in solo and group shows, has supported various community groups with donations of artwork and volunteer time, and has been the recipient of multiple artistic awards. She has developed programming and taught art classes and workshops for all ages. She has also participated in focus groups and info gathering sessions for various city arts and culture related events and proposals. Stephanie is truly dedicated to sharing her creative expression through her art, and to teaching others various methods of creating.


Heritage - Dr. Peter Raffo

In a career that has spanned four and a half decades, Dr. Raffo has researched and written on local history, produced radio documentaries for the CBC, and received numerous awards in recognition of his efforts. He was the scriptwriter for The Fatal Flower, a re-creation of a silent movie made in Port Arthur in 1929 by the Port Arthur Amateur Cinema Society. He has served as a lecturer, associate professor of history and adjunct professor of history at Lakehead University for an uninterrupted period beginning in 1967.Dr. Raffo is a tireless promoter of the history and heritage of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. Through research, publications, and productions, he has enhanced the understanding of our historical roots, and ensured that our heritage is preserved for future generations to enjoy and learn from. 


Cultural Organization - CILU - Lakehead University Radio 102.7FM

CILU features music and content not played on commercial radio. In addition to music, the station features news and interviews about artists from all disciplines. Programmers routinely highlight art shows, readings, workshops, big productions and intimate house concerts, CD or book launches, government arts opportunities and the city`s cultural events. CILU features ethnic programmers share music and news in their own languages, daily children`s programming, opportunities for youth and credible shows about local sports, health, politics, environmental issues and community concerns.


Emerging Youth Artist - Kate-Lynn Kramer

Kate-Lynn Kramer is a student in her final year of school at Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute, participating in the Specialist High Skills Major in Arts and Culture where she has Honor Roll Standing and has received highest marks in the Visual Arts. Her ability to manipulate media into beautiful works of art comes naturally, especially her drawing and painting skills. She has exhibited at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery Secondary School Art Show, and her work is showcased at her school including a permanent mural she is creating. Katie has volunteered her time and talents for various organizations and events in the city, including a cop-op placement at the Baggage Building Arts Centre. She plans to apply to the Visual Arts program at Lakehead University.


Cultural Educator - Nicole Armstrong

Nicole Armstrong has contributed to the arts community in a myriad of ways through her teaching initiatives, her volunteer efforts, her event coordination, her performances, and her work with community theatre. She has travelled to various workshops to work with some of Canada's most influential teachers. She obtained her associated teaching qualification with the Cecchetti Society of Canada at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, and in the spring of 2012 obtained her Advanced II level.

Nicole has a firm belief in providing arts education to all demographics, and has worked with every age group from children to adults. In the last two years she has worked with the Royal Conservatory's Learning Through The Arts "Youth Empowerment Program"  and the Community Arts & Heritage Education Project. She organized, produced and directed An Evening with the Arts; coordinated, directed and produced the Arts and Alzheimer Education Project; partnered with Paramount Live to create programming for children; directed and coordinated Camp Conference; directed a full length musical with children; and played female lead in a local musician's music video. She has also worked with recreational therapy students at Confederation College, and with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to educate about the benefits of drama therapy and improvisational theatre. Nicole continues to contribute to Thunder Bay's arts community in any way she can, and wants to continue to strengthen and enhance our arts community.


Cultural Supporter - Cathy Paroschy Harris

Cathy Paroschy Harris is a talented choreographer, innovator, educator, and dance instructor who has spent the last 27 years as the volunteer Artistic Director of Chaban Ukrainian Dance Group. Cathy has a passion for all things Ukrainian, especially the preservation of Ukrainian culture through dance, and has been a strong promoter of Chaban in the community, nationally, and internationally. She has vision and a strong belief in Chaban's youth and family volunteers, and lives her motto that Chaban is not only a dance group but it is a community. She exemplifies volunteerism, while maintaining a full-time profession, raising a family, and being a part-time Lakehead University graduate student.


Cultural Business - The Walleye Magazine

Since its first publication in July 2010, The Walleye Magazine has quickly emerged as Thunder Bay's definitive source of information on the arts and culture scene. Every month, the magazine assembles a series of engaging stories that highlight the best of Thunder Bay. Through their small group of freelance writers, photographers and graphic designers, the magazine covers events (including the much anticipated event calendar) and arts/culture previews/reviews. Over 3,000 people read the magazine online, and hard copies seem to vaporize every month to the point that's it's a challenge to find a hard copy. The Walleye is locally-owned, donates 1% of all revenue to the Thunder Bay Field Naturalist's Nature Reserve Program, and regularly sponsors a variety of arts and culture events in the city.


Small Business - The Walleye Magazine - see above.


Large Cultural Business - CIBC Thunder Bay

The CIBC has a longstanding and active commitment to promoting arts and creativity in Thunder Bay, particularly among youth, and in 2012 they took a new leading role by becoming the Summer Season sponsor for the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. This partnership allowed the gallery to assemble one of its most ambitious exhibitions ever: Circle Vision: The Art of Roy Thomas, a Retrospective Exhibition. The CIBC`s financial and volunteer contributions have also allowed the gallery to run two Family Days at a very low cost to parents, ensuring that all members of the community can participate. The CIBC has also sponsored and provided volunteer support for the gallery`s 2012 Garden Tour. In 2012 CIBC Thunder Bay went the extra mile to invigorate, enrich, celebrate and preserve the artistic heritage of the city.

2011 Award Winners 

Cultural Educator - Westgate CVI Arts & Culture Educators Specialist High Skills Major Program

This group of talented and committed educators delivers an enriched bundle of credits, reach-ahead experiences, industry-recognized certifications and more in the field of arts and culture. At Westgate they offer a specialized program to enable students to gain sector-specific skills and knowledge in the context of engaging, career-related learning environments. The group includes Marian Stevenson, Barbara Boucher, Dino Pepe, Jennifer Godin, Kimberly Buonocore, Tina Vieira, Tara Green, Wendy Juan, Janet Marostica, Mary Ann Tuomi and Jamie Philp.


Visual Arts - Christian Chapman

Christian is an accomplished young artist and role model for youth as well as mature, established professionals in the arts community. Christian is well known for his effective mixed-media work and advocacy of the arts. In 2009, Christian was commissioned by the Chiefs of Ontario to paint a portrait of Elijah Harper, which was presented to Chief Harper and exhibited at the 6th Annual Youth Symposium in Kenora, Ontario. 


Cultural Organizations - The Thunder Bay Art Gallery

Since its beginning 35 years ago, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery has provided the citizens of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario with a rich variety of art and cultural exhibitions and a wide scope of programs and initiatives. The Art Gallery strives to demonstrate creative originality in the art that it collects, the artists it promotes and the exhibitions it presents. 


Heritage - Dr. Michel Beaulieu (Cultural Heritage)

Dr. Beaulieu is Director of the Centre for Northern Studies and Associate Professor of History at Lakehead University. For the past decade, he has taught courses on Northern Ontario history, the history of Canada's North, Canadian politics and labour and the North American fur trade. He has served on a number of community organizations such as the Thunder Bay Museum and the Northwestern Ontario Archivists Association. He has published two books and has more forthcoming in 2012.


Emerging Youth Artist - Jason Miller

This 14-year-old artist and accomplished drummer is beyond his years in both visual and performing arts. Jason's teachers have been impressed with his vision for creating mature, high quality art, some of which has been chosen out of thousands of entries in the Robert Bateman "Get-to-Know" Calendar for the third year in a row! Jason has already built up an extensive portfolio of art, as well as professionally recorded CDs including songs that he played on and co-wrote. Quite an accomplishment at only 14 years of age!


Emerging Youth Artist - Jenna Townson

While Jenna Townson is able to perform on many instruments (piano, tin whistle, clarinet, violin, voice) she has built her musical reputation on the harp. Jenna is a voracious music learner and has attended many higher level music sessions for the harp and Celtic music in general, including time spent at the Goderich Celtic Institute. She is a member of the Thunder Bay Symphony Youth Orchestra, Hammarskjold High School Band and her own performing group "the Fiddleheads". A grade 12 student, she has already built a long list of accomplishments as a community volunteer and plans to pursue a career in music.


Small Business - The Picture Store & Framing Centre

The Picture Store was established 18 years ago by owner Lucio Coppola in response to the need for a framing and framed art shop in Thunder Bay at an affordable cost. The Picture Store & Framing Centre has grown in recent years to offer artists a venue to display their work, and to support programming for incarcerated youth by offering discounted framing for work that the youth have created. The Picture Store now hosts exhibitions for a number of community groups and has extended its operations at the new creative centre called Local Colour Gallery on Cumberland Street.


Cultural Business - The Walleye Magazine

The Walleye is a business with a small but dedicated team of individuals that works hard to showcase artists, events and unique aspects of life in Thunder Bay. With honest writing and full-colour photos, the team at the Walleye Magazine covers arts and culture with a passionate voice that exemplifies our collective enthusiasm for life in Thunder Bay. The Walleye seeks to share the talents of artists living in our midst and cultural stories, whether from our past, present or future.


Cultural Supporter Category - Bruce Stonehouse

Bruce has played a significant role in the development of several cultural organizations and programs in Thunder Bay for the past 13 years. He has served as a volunteer on many organizations and committees including the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay Cultural Services Advisory Committee, Public Art Committee, Inspire Thunder Bay Cultural Plan Steering Committee and Clean, Green & Beautiful Committee, to name a few. These various committees have made significant contributions to Thunder Bay's cultural development during his tenure. He inspired his fellow committee members with the depth of his knowledge of the arts, and approached his work with both passion and professionalism.


Performing and Media Art - Paul Morralee

With over 25 years of film experience, filmmaker Paul Morralee's MorVision Films is based in Ottawa and Thunder Bay. His work includes commercial, industrial and charitable productions focusing on promotion, advertising, instruction and documentary. His filmography includes such recent projects as '100 Days of City Hall' and 'Where on Earth is My Bike?' Paul exemplifies community spirit, volunteerism and involvement in our community and has had leadership roles in over 20 community-based organizations in the last 20 plus years.

2010 Award Winners

Cultural Educator - Christie Parry

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.


Heritage - The Thunder Mountain Singers

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.


Visual Art - Keith Ailey

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. 


Cultural Organization - Willow Springs Creative Centre

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.


Emerging Youth Artist - Brandi Fiala

Brandi Fiala is an emerging artist and student at Westgate Collegiate & Vocational Institute. Brandi has been chosen to display her art at the annual High School Art Show at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery for the past three years. Brandi's unique artistic style is remarkable at her age, and she is admired by her peers, teachers, and viewers at gallery exhibits as an exceptional and memorable emerging artist. 


Small Business - The Painted Turtle Art Shop

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.


Large Business - The Chronicle-Journal

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. 


Cultural Business - The Ahnisnabae Art Gallery

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.


Cultural Supporter - Fran Loney

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.  


Performing & Media Art - Lee Chambers

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.

2008 Award Winners

Visual Art - Linda Dell

Linda Dell is a true believer in the value of arts and culture in the community. Linda has not only mentored young artists while attending Lakehead University, but continues to do so through her work with incarcerated youth and sharing her love of painting through teaching various classes and workshops. Linda has also donated many of her works to Magnus Theatre, the Cancer Society, AIDS Thunder Bay and many more. Linda now owns and operates her Fine Art Studio in Thunder Bay.


Performance & Media Art - Kim Erickson

Kim Erickson has been a singer, songwriter, pianist, director, choreographer and teacher for more than 25 years. She has brought singing to a broad range of people and has introduced them to a variety of musical genres. Kim lives the belief that a vibrant art community is an essential element in the quality of life in the community and she supports many worthy causes with her artistic talents.


Heritage - Alan Wade

Alan Wade has been writing for more than 30 years and over the last decade has been focusing on the local history in Thunder Bay. Alan's love of writing is clearly seen through his passion of preserving and promoting Thunder Bay's rich history. Alan's work is more than just names and dates, he tells stories from First Nations; to the early Europeans; to 20th century business and criminals.


Organization - Ka:nen Our Children Our Future

Ka:nen Our Children Our Future has been at the heart of Aboriginal cultural development in Thunder Bay since its conception in 1995. It is committed to the development of healthy children by strengthening families and communities based on a cultural perspective. Ka:nen Our Children Our Future promotes a vision of a holistic, integrated community-owned approach resulting in a positive change in these families and strives to ensure that services are universally accessible and locally-relevant.


Emerging Youth Artist - Gregory Lewis

Gregory Lewis is a tremendous young musician with a great love of the arts. Gregory never turns down an opportunity to perform and has put his talent to commendable efforts such as: benefits, charitable fundraisers and for promoting the well-being of the sick and elderly in Thunder Bay. Gregory is now pursuing a career in music performance.

2006 Award Winners

Arts - Vesa Peltonen

Vesa Peltonen is a talented artist, designer and teacher who has spent many years working in the field of visual arts. His efforts in the Bi-National art exchange / exhibition project brought much attention to the region from national and local media as well as the Ontario Arts Council. Over the years, Vesa has participated in many exhibitions and has been recognized through awards, commissions, volunteer work, and has also been appointed as an arts advisor.

Heritage - John Ferris

John Ferris has been involved with the arts since he was four years old. Today, he has become well known for his leadership in the aboriginal community by promoting their artistic values as well as the importance of their creations. John has brought together artisans for the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Art Shows and from that created the AAGNO Group. His leadership also extends to teaching art to the inmates at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre and at the Creighton Youth Detention Centre.

Organization - Thunder Bay Bluegrass and Acoustic Music Guild

Thunder Bay Bluegrass and Acoustic Music Guild has been providing the opportunity for those interested in the art of jamming to play with others throughout various city venues. Through regular jams, workshops, and musical instruction, members become motivated to improve their musical ability. In addition to artistic workshops, they have provided concerts to raise funds for community charities. Their contributions to the community have educated and created awareness of Bluegrass and Acoustic Music.

Emerging Youth Artist - Sarah Furlotte

Sarah Furlotte is a third year, visual arts student at Lakehead University as well as prop coordinator for Magnus Theatre. Her exhibits have been displayed at Calico Coffee House, the Rainge Gallery above the Painted Turtle Art Shop and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.  As an enthusiastic supporter of the arts, she sits on the board for the Lakehead University Visual Arts Network (VAN). There, she inspires others to become more involved in the arts community, both inside and outside of school.

2005 Award Winners

Arts - Lila Cano
Nominated for performing Arts for being an accomplished actress, director, facilitator, teacher, and visual artist.  With boundless energy and talent, Lila is called upon by many businesses, organizations and conference organizers.  Her latest venture, as Coordinator of the Community Arts & Heritage Education Project utilizes her exceptional talent in the creation of innovative opportunities for children to work with artists and have rich artistic experiences.


Organization - Definitely Superior Art Gallery

Definitely Superior Art Gallery addressed Northwestern Ontario's need for an Artist-Run-Centre and today is the only one between Winnipeg and North Bay.  An invaluable cultural resource, the Definitely Superior Art Gallery is working to build a healthy arts scene in our city, attracting new and young artists and audiences to the arts.


Heritage - James R. Stevens

He is one of the most significant authors to emerge from this area whose works deal specifically with this region. Jim collaborated with Aboriginal peoples to write and produce a series of books that would assist young people to understand their culture and economic contribution to Canada.  Stevens has also written about Northwestern Ontario art, flyers, sailors and ships of the Great Lakes.  His personal motivation is to produce material that has enduring value for readers.


Emerging Youth Artist - Lee Gabrielle Gastmeier

Lee expresses herself creatively through her art, photography and writing a column for the University newspaper. At 19 years of age, she is amassing a portfolio in pursuit of a professional career as an artist. As a volunteer in the After School program at St. James School, Lee inspires the children to find joy as she does, in creative self-expression.

2004 Award Winners

Arts - Eleanor Albanese

Eleanor's contributions in theatre, visual art and arts education to the community have been considerable.  From writing plays, facilitating workshops with all ages, teaching at Lakehead University and Confederation College, leading community arts projects to her position as Ontario North Coordinator with the Royal Conservatory of Music's Learning Through the Arts.  

Eleanor has been involved with many Thunder Bay community agencies in developing collaborative arts projects and continues to direct, teach and guide children and adults through residencies and projects with numerous school boards, Magnus Theatre, Playwrights Guild of Canada, and Nunavut Artic Teacher's College. 

In whatever Eleanor undertakes, she inspires those around her to look beyond the obvious and reach for the creative potential within.


Heritage - Jean Morrison

Jean Morrison was among the first group of scholars to receive their Masters in History from Lakehead University in 1973. With over 30 years of heritage experience, Jean has made an extraordinary cumulative contribution to the heritage field in Thunder Bay. 

As Historian for Fort William Historical Park (FWHP) her legacy of research and acquisitions helped to shape the foundation of the Fort's interpretive and education programmes which continue to impress citizens and visitors alike. In recognition of her work, FWHP has named the resource library "The Jean Morrison Canadian Fur Trade Library".

Jean has written on the fur trade and local labour history for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, The  Canadian Encyclopedia, The Beaver, and the Thunder Bay Historical Museum.

2003 Award Winners

Arts - Rodney Brown

Rodney Brown has enriched the lives and spirits of the community for well over thirty years. He is a folk musician par excellence but has branched out into a wide range of styles including blues and rock, country and jazz. He is also a talented and sympathetic performer for children. 

Through all his music his deep love of the North is apparent; he has written songs about the Kaminstiquia River, Kakabeka Falls, the Great Lakes and other regional locations. Since the 1970s Rodney has released nine original albums and discs, and he has performed nation wide. In the early 1990s, Rodney wrote the lyrics and music for five plays, each performed by Magnus Theatre. He has also hosted countless workshops and concerts.

Rodney has been commissioned to contribute to a diversity of projects, including the theme song for Thunder Bay's designation as the Forest Capital of Canada, at the ceremonies for which he was presented to the Governor General. Rodney has volunteered his time in the CF Telethon, the Thunder Bay Children's Festival,  and for Camp Quality, the Alzheimer's Society, Habitat for Humanity, the Lakehead Social Planning Council's Benefit concert, and countless others


Heritage - Elinor Barr
Elinor Barr is a writer of history, a pioneer publisher of books concerning Northwestern Ontario, and a promoter and advocate for local authors. She has written extensively about the history of the area, including: 'Thunder Bay to Gunflint: the Port Arthur, Duluth and Western Railway' (1999); 'The Scandinavian Home Society 1923-93: A Place to Meet, A Place to Eat' (1996); 'Silver Islet: Striking it Rich in Lake Superior' (1989). 

Five of Elinor's books on regional history and 16 articles on local historical subjects have been featured in publications such as The Canadian Encyclopedia, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and the Swedish-American Historical Quarterly, and others.

Elinor founded Singing Shield Productions in 1984 to promote Ontario-produced books, to publish local writing and to provide distribution services across North America for these works. She also acted as photo researcher on the book,  'The Vast and Magnificent Land: An illustrated History of North Ontario', and contributed articles to 'Thunder Bay from Rivalry to Unity' (1995).

As an Associate Producer she has worked on 'Our Nordic Legacy', a one hour TV tribute to Nordic people in Northwestern Ontario, and 'Distant Voices' on TV Ontario, which profiled 72 residents from this region from 1990-1994.

Elinor has represented Thunder Bay internationally at conferences in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and many venues across Canada. In 2000, she became a City of Thunder Bay Citizen of Exceptional Achievement



Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Copperfin Credit Union:

Thank you to our event sponsors:

  • Magnus Theatre
  • Thunder Bay CEDC
  • TB Shows


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