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Wisdom: ‘Art Bus’ making its debut this fall

A third art bus is set to hit the streets this fall with designs lead by Morningstar Derosier and Shelby Gagnon.

As art goes, rarely is it a moving structure in the streets of Thunder Bay but this fall youth, led by two local Indigenous artists, will design the 40-foot bus that will be a moving art piece.

Morningstar Derosier and Shelby Gagnon say they were onboard immediately. Working with Youth Inclusion, they’re both excited to begin the process this fall with young artists.

That’s the beautiful thing about this community,” says Gagnon when discussing the close-knit community of emerging artists in Thunder Bay, “We’re all trying to help each other out and learn from each other. As emerging artists, it’s nice to have that support and encouragement.”

Derosier is an Anishinaabe-Nehiyawak filmmaker who holds an Advanced Diploma in Digital Cinematography and studied Indigenous Visual Culture at the Ontario School of Art and Design and Gagnon is a multi-disciplinary Anishinaabe-Cree artist from Aroland First Nation and program coordinator with Indigenous Food Circle.

Both artists are activists and environmentalists making strides in promoting and supporting the Indigenous community.

Mamawe – All Together, will be a moving celebration of the Indigenous community and Derosier says the art displayed will have themes of healing and natural elements like medicines and foods, making it organic and collaborative.

Moving through streets and time

As a partnership between Indigenous Relations and Inclusions office, the Clean, Green and Beautiful Committee, and the Recreation and Culture Division, the art bus will be a 40-foot installation rolling through the streets of Thunder Bay.

The first bus debuted in 2015 with a second following in early 2020 to celebrate the city’s 50th anniversary. The second is still in rotation with this new one being an added welcome.

Derosier and Gagnon are excited about occupying space with art created by emerging artists and youth within the city, building a stronger relationship with government and city officials.

“Having that presence out there for other Indigenous people and trying to create a strong sense of community and welcoming for everyone [is the goal],” says Derosier.

The art bus will be a community presence that highlights what it means to be Indigenous in Thunder Bay, Gagnon says, and it’s a communal process of design.

Both Derosier and Gagnon have made names for themselves within Thunder Bay and this project is just the beginning of what will be important communal and artistic work from both.

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