The first director of Canada’s new Indigenous Screen Office will be Jesse Wente, it was announced Wednesday.
The purpose of the Indigenous Screen Office is to support the development, production and marketing of Indigenous screen content and storytelling in Canada.
Wente, who is Ojibwe from the Serpent River First Nation in Ontario, has worked as a culture columnist with CBC Radio since 1996. He has been the director of film programmes at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and serves on the boards of the Canada Council of the Arts and the Toronto Arts Council and was a previous board member for the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival.
He said this opportunity is what his career and life have been leading up to until this point.
“I think that’s in line with it being time for me personally to take on this sort of challenge, and that I’m in the best position to use my experience to create the most impact and that’s what I’m looking to do.”
Wente will also be tasked with developing long-term strategies for supporting and fostering Indigenous screen culture in Canada.
The Indigenous Screen Office is sure to evolve as Wente gets working, but he said he sees its role as an office of advocacy for Indigenous creators and stories on screen in Canada and around the world.
The Indigenous Screen office for Canada is a new initiative that was created this past June as a collaboration with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada, the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Media Producers Association, and the National Film Board of Canada.
Bell Media, the Harold Greenberg Fund and VICE Studio Canada are also associated partners.
“It’s an enormously positive indication of real movement and a desire for real change within our industry,” said Wente.
He said his goal is for the office to create cultural change “which will extend not just beyond the stories we tell but to the real life issues that our communities face, to the relationship between non-Indigenous peoples here on Turtle Island and First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.”