The Directors of the Friends of the Finnish Labour Temple are all historians and currently members of the Lakehead University Department of History. They have worked together for several years on various cultural, educational and historical projects and now lead the Friends in its mission to promote the Finnish-Canadian experience.


Kelly Saxberg is a film producer, director, editor and cinematographer who has worked on over 80 films. She works in English, French, Spanish and Finnish. Most recently she completed  “Guardians of Eternity” a documentary about the toxic Legacy of the Giant Mine in Yellowknife, NWT. Kelly was the producer and cinematographer. In 2014 she produced, shot and edited “Pulp Friction” directed by Ron Harpelle, a documentary about globalization and the forestry communities Terrace Bay, Ontario, Kemijärvi, Finland and Fray Bentos, Uruguay. Kelly was the writer/director/ editor of Under The Red Star a feature length historical docu-drama film in Finnish and English about the Finnish Labour Temple in Thunder Bay.   “Letters from Karelia,” was Kelly’s first feature length documentary about Canadians who moved to the Soviet Union in the 1930’s. It was also nominated for a Gemini for best history documentary in 2006. It won two Blizzards – Best Documentary and Kelly won Best Directing at the 2006 Manitoba Motion Picture Industry Awards. She won Best Director at Northern Character Film Festival in Murmansk, Russia.

Her other films include “Dorothea Mitchell: A Reel Pioneer”, “Voyageurs Legacy: Our Story /Le printemps des voyageurs: La Genèse,” The award winning “Banana Split,” and the NFB production “Rosies of the North.” She was a collaborator on the SSHRC funded new media project

Currently she is organizing the 4th Docs North  Doc Nord  intensive 4 day multi-media workshop aimed at filmmakers, artists and researchers from remote northern communities across the far north of Ontario.  In 2005, Kelly and Ron Harpelle founded The Bay Street Film Festival with a mandate to celebrate and promote regional film. The Finnish Labour Temple has been the festival’s home for 12 years and a strong connection to Finnish filmmakers has been established.

In 2014 she was elected to the board of the Finlandia Association of Thunder Bay. She served as treasurer until 2016. In 2015, she was elected to the board of the Finnish Canadian Cultural Federation. She is also a contract lecturer in the History Department at Lakehead University, where she has taught “History in Frame” 4 years and continues into 2016. Her project “One Woman’s North: The incredible Journey of Sheila Burnford” received a NOHFC and Northern Arts Grant and is in production.


Dr. Ronald Harpelle is a professor of history at Lakehead University. He has been an editor of 3 books concerning Finnish Canadians (Labouring Finns: Transnational Politics in Finland, Canada and the United States, Developments, Definitions, and Directions in Finnish Language, Literature, and Culture, Karelian Exodus: Finns in North America and Karelia During the Depression Era, and he is also an editor of a forthcoming book entitled Hard Work Conquers All: Aspects of the Finnish-Canadian Experience, with the University of British Columbia Press. Dr. Harpelle has also chaired the organization committees for two international conferences on Finnish immigration, Finnish Immigrants and the Decade of Depression, 1929-1939, Thunder Bay March 27-28 2004, and Finland and the World: Past, Present and Future, FinnForum IX, May 26-27, 2010, Thunder Bay. In addition to being the co-author of the Lakehead Finns website, he is also the producer of a documentary film entitled “Under the Red Star.” Dr. Harpelle is also a member of the Council for the John Morton Centre for North American Studies.

Ron Harpelle has been a documentary film producer and director in Thunder Bay for fifteen years. He has worked on over 30 films as a producer, director and sound recordist. Among his directing credits are “Pulp Friction,” (2014) a film about globalization and the pulp industry in Finland, Uruguay and Canada, “Hard Time,” (2012) a film about Angola 3 member Robert King, “In Security,” (2010) a film about barbed wire, people and spaces, and of “Banana Split,” (2002) an award winning documentary film about Canada’s favourite fruit. As a producer his credits include all of the films he has directed and, “Guardians of Eternity” (2015) a film about the Yellowknife Dene First Nation and the Giant Mine, “The Big Blue,” (2012) “Under the Red Star,” (2011) “Dorothea Mitchell: A Reel Pioneer.” (2006) “The Fatal Flower,” (2000). He recently completed “Engaging the World” ( an inter-active website and non-linear documentary film using the Korsakow system and he co-produced, a comprehensive website about Finnish immigration and settlement in Canada. Harpelle also publishes books and articles to accompany some of his films.

Ron Harpelle has won several awards, most notably, the Best Documentary Latin American Environmental Media Festival 2005, the Deborah Fletcher Award of Excellence in International Development Filmmaking (CIDA) and the Canadian Federation of Film Studies Burrit/Thompson Award 2003. In addition, “Banana Split” was included in the 2003 Ökomedia International Environmental Film Festival tour of Germany and selected for the Travelling World Community Film Festival. His films have also been broadcast on television and selected by numerous film festivals in Canada and abroad. He has received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, CIDA, the International Development Research Centre, the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund and other agencies.

Ron Harpelle has also mentored and provided opportunities for artists, artisans, and filmmakers in and around Thunder Bay. Productions like Under the Red Star, involved 35 crew members, 20 actors and 200 extras. Other productions have been more modest, but local musicians, actors, technicians and support people have been worked on his films in the past. He has also worked with artists abroad. Harpelle is the co-founder and current Chair of the Bay Street Film Festival, an annual event that has provided filmmakers from Northwestern Ontario with opportunities to screen their work in a competitive setting, attend workshops, and mingle with directors from around the world. He is also a member of the program board for the Ethnografilm Festival in Paris and editorial board of the Journal of Video Ethnography. He has also made numerous presentations and participated in workshops on film and filmmaking. He is particularly interested in the production of documentary films for pedagogical purposes.

Vice President

Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu is an award winning author and an Associate Professor of History at Lakehead University. For over a decade he has been actively involved in research projects in Canada and Finland exploring the Finnish experience in Canadian politics, labour, and economic development. Dr. Beaulieu’s work on aspects of the Finnish-Canadian experience has approved in six books and a dozen journal articles and books chapters. He was also the lead on the SSHRC funded community-based new media project “The Lakehead Finns – The Working Class 1900-35: Hard Work Conquers All.” In 2017, two new publications recognizing the 100 anniversary of Finnish Independence and Canada’s 150 will be released. “Hard Work Conquers All” will be published by UBC Press and a collection being coordinated by Canada’s Embassy in Finland will be published in Finland. Dr. Beaulieu has held positions as a Visiting Professor at the University of Helsinki, is an Instructor with the University of the Arctic, and sits on the international advisory committee for the journal Faravid: Historian ja arkeologian tutkimuksen aikakauskirja. His work has been recognized by numerous awards. 

His research is wide-ranging, but generally deals with the historical political, economic, and social issues relating to northern and remote communities in Canada and the circumpolar north. In addition to completing a project exploring the activities of the Industrial Workers of the World in Canada (IWW), he is now preparing a history of politics in Northwestern Ontario between 1935 and 2000, and a comparative study on sustainable community development in Northern Ontario and Uruguay funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Past research has focussed on early Canadian labour and socialist organizations operating in Northwestern Ontario and film and media history.   He is both a volunteer and sits on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Historical Society, the Multicultual History Society of OntarioCanadian International Council – Thunder Bay BranchArchives Association of Ontario – Northwestern Ontario Archivist’s Association, and the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society. He is the Vice-President of The Champlain Society and administers its Floyd S. Chalmers Award in Ontario History. He is the Co-Editor of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society’s peer-reviewed journal Papers & Records and sit on the international advisory committee for Faravid: Historian ja arkeologian tutkimuksen aikakauskirja [Journal for Historical Research and Archaeological Studies] published out of Oulu Unversity, Finland. He is a proud graduate of Lakehead University, and is currently the Vice-President of the Alumni Association of Lakehead University.


Dr. Charles Nathan Hatton is a full-time sessional lecturer at Lakehead University. His main research interests are in the history of combative sports in North America, with a particular focus on their social significance both to participant and spectator.  His research endeavours have been recognized both by the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada as well as Sport Canada.  Current research interests include the early history of ‘less reputable’ entertainments and past times in the developing Canadian West.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Dr. Hatton is a former competitive Olympic-style weightlifter with the Thunder Bay Giants Weightlifting Club and currently trains recreationally in assorted wrestling arts.

In 2015-2016 Nathan Hatton was the community Liaison Intern for the Finlandia Association of Thunder Bay.