Toronto, January 31, 2018 – Key audiovisual industry organizations announced today the appointment of Jesse Wente as Director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office, a role he will assume starting February 1, 2018. Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office is an initiative first announced by the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, at the Banff World Media Festival this past June.
Jesse Wente is a highly respected broadcaster and cultural industries leader, having worked at major Canadian cultural organisations. A film expert, he has spent two decades working in the creative community and advocating for Indigenous rights. He has been Director of Film Programmes at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for the past seven years, and has contributed to CBC Radio as a critic, reporter, and producer since 1996. Jesse has served on numerous Boards, including the Toronto Arts Council and the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival. He is Ojibwe from the Serpent River First Nation, born in Toronto.
As Director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office, Jesse will develop an approach to meet the Office’s strategic objectives and manage its operations. This Office will then implement a long-term strategy supporting all levels of talent development, including short and feature script development; television and digital media and training. A key role of the office will be to facilitate relationships with broadcasters, distributors, training institutions and federal funders.
“I look forward to working with the stakeholders in the Indigenous Screen Office as well as my colleagues in the broader sector, to expand the reach and impact of Indigenous stories on screen and further the opportunities for Indigenous storytellers on all levels of production in Canada,” said Jesse Wente. “Now more than ever, the need for Indigenous narrative sovereignty is evident and I’m excited to work with the community of Indigenous creators to help grow our industry and amplify their voices.”
The creation of this Office was the primary outcome of a multi-stakeholder engagement process announced last January, led by Marcia Nickerson, Indigenous Governance Consultant, the objective of which was to develop recommendations to better support the Indigenous screen-based sector in Canada. Resulting from this process, the participating organisations launched an initiative to create an Indigenous Screen Office tasked with supporting the development, production and marketing of Indigenous content, thus contributing to a vibrant Canadian Indigenous screen-based industry.
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada (CBC/SRC), the Canada Media Fund (CMF), Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) collaborated to support the Indigenous Screen Office. Associated partners include Bell Media, the Harold Greenberg Fund and VICE Studio Canada. The partners are thrilled that Jesse has agreed to undertake this leadership role and believe his experience and extensive knowledge will be valuable assets in his new position as Director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office.