Ojibwe arts leader Jesse Wente named head of Canada Council for the Arts

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Ojibwe broadcaster, curator, producer and activist Jesse Wente has been named Chair of the Board of the Canada Council for the Arts. An outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and First Nations, Metis and Inuit art, he is the first Indigenous chairperson of the organisation.

Wente is known for his 24 years as a columnist for CBC Radio’s Metro Morning as well as his work as the director of film programmes at the TIFF Lightbox. As a speaker, he has led conferences at the International Forum of Indigenous Peoples, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Canadian Arts Summit and numerous universities and colleges.

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“I’m very honoured and thankful and appreciative of being given the appointment,” Wente said. “I look at it as a real obligation to serve artists and the culture of Canada but certainly, very specifically, the broader Indigenous community. I think it’s important that we take on roles like this and try to bring about the change we need for our communities. I consider that a huge obligation and I look forward to doing my best to fulfill it.”

Press release from the Canadian Council for the Arts:

Ottawa, July 28, 2020 – The Canada Council for the Arts welcomes the appointment of Jesse Wente as the new Chair of its Board for a 5-year term, effective July 28, 2020. Wente was appointed following the Governor in Council application and selection process which is open, transparent and merit-based to ensure the integrity of its public institutions. Jesse Wente succeeds Pierre Lassonde, who had held the position for the last five years.

The appointment of Jesse Wente as Chair of our Board is an event of historic significance for the Council and for Canada. Jesse is a long-time advocate for First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights. His in-depth knowledge of film, media and popular culture and his critical discourse highlighting the role of under-represented voices in arts and culture have already made an invaluable contribution to the governance of the Canada Council. At a time when the future of the arts sector is being reimagined, it is a privilege for me and my executive team to benefit from the leadership of the first Indigenous Chair of the Canada Council.

Pierre Lassonde’s tenure has enabled the Council to make significant progress. The implementation of the new funding model, the development of reliable methods to measure our results, the doubling of our budget, the increased international visibility of Canadian arts and artists, and our investment in digital infrastructure, which has proven to be a strategic asset for the Council since the beginning of the COVID crisis, have required constant and optimal collaboration between the Board chaired by Pierre Lassonde and the team I lead. Thank you for everything, Pierre!

Simon Brault, Canada Council Director and CEO

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


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