Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Exhibit – Thunder Bay, 2021
As part of a community-building and educational campaign, in partnership with Generator Insights Strategy Creative, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), an organization that represents 49 First Nations in northern Ontario, was looking for a walk-through, modular exhibit covering approximately 1,500 square feet to use at the Wake the Giant festival in Thunder Bay, Ontario. As NAN was planning on reusing the exhibit in different indoor and outdoor settings, the exhibit had to be able to withstand the outdoor elements and easily adapt to different sizes.
Inspired by elements in the organization’s logo, we designed and built a fully modular exhibit, complete with 16 custom-made semi-round, rectangular, paneled, and circular aluminum structures and custom-printed visuals. We began by building the different aluminum structures and printing the visuals on fabric, through a dye sublimation printing process, with the creative intent to emulate different materials such as leather, feathers, and wood. We then added both Velcro and silicone edges to the fabric panels to keep them place on the structures. Finally, to keep the exhibit visible at night, we added LED spotlights for the four extremities. To complement the look, we also printed flags and double-sided Blockout vinyl banners. Once complete, we managed the transportation to the site and assisted in both the installation and decommission process.
By outlining First Nation history, 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.
- PNH Solutions completed the structure on time and to NAN’s different requirements.
- 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.
- With plywood and weights inside each structure, the exhibit was fit for an outdoor setting. It could easily be reused without those elements for an indoor setting.
- 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. It is intended to be used at other events in 2022 to create awareness and inclusion for the First Nations community.
- 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.