Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Exhibit – Thunder Bay, 2021
As part of a community-building campaign, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), an organization that represents 49 First Nations in northern Ontario, was looking for an outdoor exhibit, covering approximately 1,500 square feet, to use at the Wake the Giant festival in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Inspired by elements in the organization’s logo, we designed and built a fully modular exhibit complete with custom-made semi-round, rectangular, paneled, and circular aluminum structures. We then printed different visuals on fabric, through a dye sublimation printing process, and used Velcro to stick them to the different blue, powder-coated aluminum structures. We added plywood and weights inside each structure to keep them in place. Finally, to keep the exhibit visible at night, we included LED spotlights at its four extremities. Once complete, we assisted in the installation and decommission process to explain key details and facilitate future set-ups and tear-downs.
With texts that debunk different myths that affect First Nations Peoples, the goal of the exhibit, according to Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse, was to “start a truthful and respectful dialogue; discourage false and derogatory statements; and dispel racist beliefs and attitudes.” Developed by the NAN Education Department, the project was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Education following recommendations made during the Seven Youth Inquest in 2016 to address racism experienced by students attending school in Thunder Bay.
- Project consultation and management
- Exhibit design
- Product development
- Product fabrication
- Installation and decommission
- As NAN was planning on re-using the exhibit, we had to ensure that the design would be simple yet effective so that it would be easy to set up but also create a lasting impact.
- With 16 collapsible pieces measuring up to 70” H, all the different elements fit inside three wooden crates, which made it both easier and less expensive to ship.
- Following a simple installation process, the walk-through exhibit offered visitors a unique and powerful experience, where they could learn about the different realities faced by First Nations Peoples at their own pace and engage with NAN staff on-site.
- Since being used at the Wake the Giant Festival, the exhibit was set up at Pope John Paul II Senior Elementary School, a former residential school, for three days around National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. By creating a space for dialogue, the exhibit offered an opportunity to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples.
- As a modular display, for future events, the elements could be reconfigured to either smaller or bigger footprints and be used either independently or with one another. The structures could also be updated with different visuals if needed.