Thunder Bay

Indigenous art bus to roll along Thunder Bay's streets this fall

One of Thunder Bay Transit's 40-foot buses will have a new paint job this fall — which will catch the eye, and promote unity within the city.
The second art bus in Thunder Bay features designs of the public library, amethyst, a running show in honour of Terry Fox, and a curling rock. The next art bus will have the theme of Mamawe - All Together. (Scott MacKay)

One of Thunder Bay Transit's 40-foot buses will have a new paint job this fall — which will catch the eye and promote unity within the city.

A new art bus will get rolled out with the theme Mamawe - All Together.

It's the third art bus in the city. One was created in 2015, and another was unveiled in 2020 for the city's 50th anniversary celebrations. The latter is still in service, as the wrap used for the artwork has a lifespan of two to three years.

"We are on Indigenous land and we need to honour the land that we're on, and I think that we'll create beautiful visuals," said Shelby Gagnon, one of the artists involved in the project.

"It's very community-based, so I hope it brings some healing or good feelings and positivity to the city." 

Gagnon is one of two lead artists, the other is Morningstar Derosier. The pair will work with youths in the city to come up with a design, and another artist in North Bay will help the group turn the art into a bus-sized design.

"It goes without saying, public art is always important, right? It add meaning to the city, creates space, connections, creates a voice, showcases the uniqueness of our community. This project, in particular, celebrates a space to create a welcoming space in the city to honour history, culture," said Louisa Costanzo, the supervisor of cultural development and events with the city.

"I feel like this bus will definitely share perspectives and share what we as Indigenous people feel in Thunder Bay. There is a lot of segregation, there is problems within the city, but for us, it's what are the good things that we see in the city," said Gagnon.

"I think the bus, the Mamawe bus, we're all in this together, so I think we need to start working with all parts of organizations and municipalities and we need to work together to do some of the hard work that needs to be done. And, create those conversations," said Gagnon.

"I think it's like, how do we learn to understand each other or learn to communicate in better ways with these governmental organizations and people. We're all human, we should be all treated the same and I think that's why we need to work together."


Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.