Ontario’s Superior Country is proud to announce that Nipigon, Ontario, will soon be the location of the “Copper Thunderbird” monument and panel inspired by and dedicated to Indigenous Group of Seven Artist Norval Morrisseau. Influenced by his Anishinaabe Spirit Name, Copper Thunderbird, this monument will be just that, a Copper Thunderbird with various photos of Morrisseau printed within the wings and body, and an interpretive panel which will include information on the monumental artist.
Born John Baptist Norman Henry Morrisseau in Fort William Thunder Bay, Morrisseau spent a lot of his early childhood in Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek, or, Sand Point First Nation. There, he spent a lot of time exploring his artistic gifts within the land he grew up on by drawing different pictures within the wet sand on different beaches. While exploring his artful talents, he was also learning traditions from his grandfather such as fishing and trapping. But, when he discovered the pictographs drawn by his ancestors on the Ochre rocks, these 100-year-old drawings would become Morrisseau’s inspiration for his influential style that became so well known.
If you would like some of Morrisseau’s art, Pelletier’s Gas Bar, located on the Lake Helen Reserve just across the Nipigon River Bridge, has various souvenirs with different Morrisseau prints. An original Morrisseau piece can be found displayed in the Nipigon Public Library.
On October 19th, 2023, at the Nipigon Bridgeview Lookout, the Norval Morrisseau Monument and Panel will be unveiled. Overlooking the Nipigon River, and the local pictographs much like the ones that inspired Morrisseau growing up, it will be a monument to the legacy of this influential artist.
The unveiling will include a small gathering of people from Morrisseau’s home community of Sand Point First Nation, as well as members from Lake Helen First Nation, members of the Township of Nipigon Council, and members of Ontario’s Superior Country.
Ontario’s Superior Country is extremely proud to have developed this monument in partnership with members of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation and the estate of Norval Morrisseau. This initiative is a part of the North Shore Tourism Project which is dedicated to developing tourism products along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The need for a piece dedicated toward the Indigenous Group of Seven was made clear within the organization’s Group of Seven Strategy as there was no current promotion or product within the region. With Norval Morisseau being a local to the area it was quickly determined that promoting his work and influence was important not only to Superior Country but to the continued recognition of Indigenous artists.