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Wisdom: New exhibit explores link between traditional knowledge and modern technology

The exhibit immerses audiences in the rich heritage of Indigenous people.

A new interactive exhibit is exploring links between traditional knowledge and modern technologies.

A new exhibit, Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions exhibit, hosted by the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, is exploring links between Indigenous traditional knowledge and modern technologies through a series of thematic interactive displays.

First People’s ancestral values and knowledge are examined through the lens of science and innovation.

Visitors to the exhibit will complete an interactive RFID bracelet quest, participate in collaborative games, examine real objects, and experience virtual reality and interactive murals.

“The collaborations that happened to bring this exhibit to life, first in Sudbury and now here in the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. I think it’s a perfect example of the way the pandemic encouraged partners like Science North, like ITO, like the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and all the supporting partners and funders,” said Leni Brem, Indigenous Tourism Ontario director of operations.

“It really shines a light on the need to partner and work together to make some of these things happen. So, with that collaboration, we were able to have the exhibit not just come to Sudbury, but also here.”

The program full of ancillary workshops and events that immerse audiences in the rich heritage of Canada’s Indigenous people and their many contributions to modern innovations and technologies, while promoting hyper local tourism in Thunder Bay.

“A lot of our development that happened in our lands are based on our knowledge. So when you look at highways you look at transmissions, a lot of that was on our portage trails,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater.

“The sad thing of it, when development came, we lost our medicines because when they go through our territories for the sake of the economy and for thriving, we forget what we’ve lost in between and some of those medicines that we used traditionally, you can’t get them back.”

Linklater added there's a need to adapt to the new age, but it’s important that traditional knowledge is kept intact.

Indigenous Ingenuity was developed by the Montreal Science Centre in collaboration with more than 100 contributors, including deep, pan-national consultation with Indigenous peoples and communities.

Indigenous Tourism Ontario partnered with Science North for this exhibit and they will also develop and produce a customized version of Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions to tour communities across Northern Ontario from June 2022 to June 2024, touring dozens of smaller centres.

“It will be a bit smaller, about 1,000 square feet, and therefore because it’s smaller, we can go into many other venues across the country. Whether it’s an art gallery, a library, a community centre, a gymnasium, the ability to bring it to a variety of smaller locations is going to be very important,” said Science North CEO Guy Labine.

Organizers hope that the development of the custom travelling exhibit and Northern Ontario tour will create a significant economic impact in the North through growth and diversification of the tourism sector and job creation.

Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions will be at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery until Feb. 21, 2022. For more information including hours of operation, visit

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