The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, has announced the appointment of Jesse Wente as Chairperson of the Canada Council for the Arts for a five-year term, effective today, July 28.
Born and raised in Toronto, Jesse Wente is an Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster, speaker and arts leader. He is a member of the Serpent River First Nation and an outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and First Nations, Métis and Inuit art. He is best known for his 24 years as a columnist for CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. He spent 11 years with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the last seven years as the director of film programmes at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. In 2017, he was named the inaugural recipient of the Reelworld Film Festival’s Reel Activist Award. He was named the first Executive Director of the Indigenous Screen Office in February 2018, and received the Association of Ontario Health Centres Media Award for 2018. He has served on the boards of directors of the Toronto Arts Council, the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival and the Native Earth Performing Arts, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Canada Council for the Arts.
“Art and culture play a vital role in our sense of togetherness. They create opportunities to unite with each other, boost our creativity and imagination, and increase overall well-being for both individuals and communities,” says Minister Guilbeault. “I am very pleased to be able to rely on the continuous support of Jesse, now as Chairperson— the first Indigenous Chairperson within the Canadian Heritage portfolio. The Canada Council for the Arts will be able to continue to benefit from his extensive knowledge, experience and passion for the arts. I also want to take this opportunity to thank outgoing Chairperson Pierre Lassonde for his remarkable contribution to the Council over the last years.”