Everyone knows the light bulb is the universal symbol for an idea, but no one thinks about the millions of tiny connections that need to occur for that idea to be realized. Well … almost no one. Yukon artists Michel Gignac and Gorellaume have thought about it quite a bit. So much so that they’ve incorporated it into a new installation at NorthLight Innovation called Through the Thought Process (Eureka). It’s the first collaboration between Gignac, who often works in sculpture, and Gorellaume, who focuses on figurative drawing.   

They say the piece mirrors the process of an idea in that both begin with a tripped switch. In the case of the installation, it’s quite literal.

As you enter the front door of NorthLight, there’s a silver light switch on a post near The Poor Creature cafe. Follow a single black cable from that switch and you’ll find it leads to a tangle of colourful wires sweeping along the wall, thinning and thickening and splicing off in a dozen different directions on its way to a single lightbulb hanging in Cospace, waiting to fire.

What does it take to get there?” says Gignac of the lit bulb. On the way to illumination, there’s a mix of emotions, triumphs and roadblocks. All are highlighted by Gorellaume’s illustrations, which appear along the length of the wires.

Hand-painted on the wall, stoats, jump and run. There’s a pensive coyote. A fox curled in a tight circle, sleeping.

Gorellaume says he and Gignac don’t want to be prescriptive in their interpretation of the piece, but, in his mind, you can put human feelings to the critters. The stoats are in the early excited stages of an idea. The coyote, at the top of a wall the wires must wind around, is considering roadblocks. The fox is sleeping it off, perhaps hoping to wake up refreshed and with new ideas tomorrow.

Cospace, makespace and community members are invited to flip the switch anytime they experience a Eureka moment at NorthLight.

New mural at NorthLight

They say many hands make light work, but the new mural recently installed at NorthLight Innovation was a massive undertaking for the dozens of community members who helped create it.

The horizontal piece stretches across an upper wall at Cospace. It depicts two seasons (summer and winter), and day and night, along with the Yukon River and the Northern lights. The shapes, including people gathered around fires and playing with their families, are stylized. The colours are vibrant and as varied as the community members who chose them. 

That’s because there wasn’t any single artist behind the work. Under the guidance of a small team, many collaborated on this depiction of the Yukon.

The project was led by Lianne Charlie, a Yukon Indigenous artist who teaches Indigenous Governance at Yukon College, and is a PhD Candidate in Indigenous Politics at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. With the support of Kaitlyn Charlie, Youth Recreation Program Coordinator for Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Courtney Terriah, KDFN Youth Worker, and Julia Veidt, Youth Tutor for Kwanlin Dün First Nation; all of whom mentored Teya Rear, a youth artist from the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.

Together, Lianne, Teya, Kaitlyn, Courtney and Julia prepared a mural image on plywood, then invited the community to paint it during four separate community workdays, including weekends at Nakwät’à kų, KDFN’s potlatch house.

Fifteen people from the community also painted 96 “sunrise and northern light sticks” that radiate out from the mural, and Teya made five individual circles, depicting Indigenous innovations in hunting, fishing, sewing, tanning hides and mothering/birthing.   

Throughout the process, Dianne Smith, a Kwanlin Dün Elder, was involved to contribute cultural and geographic knowledge, and to ensure the work was done in a good way.

Our work draws inspiration from the land, plants, animals, and Indigenous peoples’ practices, history, politics and culture to create a sense of connection to place. Our work is vibrant and inherently Northern,” reads the proposal for the piece. “NorthLight aims ‘to empower Yukoners to bring their ideas to life in a creative, innovative community.’ This mural demonstrates that Northlight is actually joining a well-established creative, innovative community—that of the Kwanlin Dün and Ta’an Kwäch‘än Peoples, here, and all Indigenous Peoples in the North. Our mural is both a showcase of Indigenous lifeways and practices of innovation and creativity and an invitation to the NorthLight community to continue this legacy here, on this land, in responsible, informed and respectful ways.”


  2180, 2nd Avenue, Whitehorse
  (867) 457-0150

NorthLight Innovation
Mon – Fri: 9am to 5pm
Wed – Sun: 1pm to 9pm
Mon – Fri: 9am – 5pm


Subscribe to our Newsletter right now to be updated. We promice not to spam!

We acknowledge that we live, work and create within the traditional territories of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.