Ryan Gorrie

Bishkaabiiyang (looking back to move forward)

Bishkaabiiyang is a term that describes a way of being that links past and present to restore Anishinaabeyaadiziwin (living as Anishinaabe person) moving into the future. Drawing on ways of building and image making linked to ancestral ways, Anishinaabe cultural reclamation is at the heart of the work. In drawing, employing smoke as an animate collaborator, part model, part drawing, the resultant images reference preservation practices of the smokehouse. The tactile and visceral nature of the making lends itself to creating an active relationship with the medium. In architecture, the Spirit Garden at the Thunder Bay waterfront celebrates bentwood technology, creating a space for performance, contemplation and awareness surrounding Indigenous form and placemaking. The bentwood space has been utilized for weddings, theatre, graduations and protests.


Ryan is a member of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (Sand Point First Nation on Lake Nipigon). He is an artist and a registered architect. Ryan’s work is multi-faceted, ranging from drawing, painting, carving, woodwork, to construction of traditional ceremonial structures.

Ryan has designed buildings and plans in healthcare, recreation, housing and landscape typologies and played a key role as a designer and artist of the multi-award winning Spirit Garden on the waterfront in Thunder Bay.  The Spirit Garden was conceived through a series of workshops with representatives from Indigenous communities in and around Thunder Bay.

Ryan brings a keen sense of detail and design excellence to his work and has been involved in a variety of design projects for communities, organizations and individuals. Descended from the Red Rock Band, Fort William First Nation and Rocky Bay First Nation, Ryan has a strong sense of identity. He strives to ensure the perpetuation of Indigenous culture through creative opportunities.