An illuminated story in the woods

March 6, 2023
A night walk through Onhwa’Lumina, an installation in Quebec, Canada, is an immersive multimedia experience into the heart of Wendat culture.

A collaboration between the Huron-Wendat Nation in Quebec, Canada, and Moment Factory, a Montreal-based design and entertainment projects studio, created Onhwa’Lumina, which uses lights and projected images, as well as recordings of Wendat singing and drumming, to tell the Nation’s stories.

The Nation’s leadership believed that telling the centuries-old story inside the traditional four walls of a museum was not the format to realistically communicate and experience their culture. Rather, they selected a setting located in a forested area, approximately 10 miles northeast of Quebec City. The immersive night walk exists along a 0.75-mile-long illuminated path. At each stop, the light projections appear to transform the forest into theatrical-style stage settings. The average amount of time spent along the trail is an hour or more, depending on the participants’ viewing time at the displays.

“Onhwa” is the Huron-Wendat word for “now,” based on the native language’s collective meaning for the passage between the past, present, and future. It was opened in June through to the end of October, reopening at the end of December to attract visitors through Spring 2023.

Entrance to the site is through an illuminated arch of panels illustrating native patterns. There are seven distinct installations, each a spectacle of light and video with a unified original soundtrack, described as “vibrating with the energy of the land, with the sounds of wind, water, and animals.”

This article appeared in the November 2022 issue of Architectural SSL magazine.

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Architectural SSL staff

In January 2024, Architectural SSL evolved to LightSPEC. While the name changed, the editorial focus -- writing and developing audience-first content about architectural lighting in the built environment for architects, interior designers, lighting designers and manufacturers, and specifiers of commercial and residential lighting and controls -- remains the same.