Jeff Bear is first nations member of the Maliseet nation located in New Brunswick Canada and is a fluent speaker of the Wolastoqiyik language. He is an active producer/director/writer of documentary and factual television. Jeff began his career working in the development of Native Communications in the late seventies with experiences in Southern Alberta at Kainai News, in Saskatchewan at Wheta Matowin in Alberta with the AMMSA group in Edmonton. He was one of the earliest members of the Windspeaker writing team, Canada’s top selling indigenous news publications and helped in the establishment of northern Radio. In 1984 Jeff took on his first management role with the Native Communications Society of British Columbia as its Chief Executive. In 1986 Jeff took on the role of Executive Director of the first national organization, NATCOM, which represented the Native Communications societies (as they were called then). However, in 1998, the time came to return to his first true passion, cultivating the art of storytelling in the moving image. After a short period of freelance work in Ottawa, Jeff accepted a role with CBC Televisions prime time current affairs series, The Journal, which was hosted by the late Barbara Frum and the late Bill Cameron. While at the Journal Jeff directed a number of field documentaries and was a team player in many news related TV specials. Jeff credits this brief period as the most important and influential training he has received in the field of moving image storytelling. His documentaries were regularly seen on the prime time show, once garnering an audience of nearly a million viewers. In 1992 Jeff moved to and settled on the west coast and remains active in the art and business of indigenous storytelling. His company has produced three limited series in Association with the APTN.
Candis Callison (Tahltan) is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, and is currently a visiting professor at Princeton University. She teaches and researches on issues related to media, social movements, journalism ethics, and the environment, and she is the author of How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts. Candis is also a regular contributor to the podcast, Media Indigena.
Danis Goulet is a Cree/Metis writer and director. Her award-winning short films have screened at festivals around the world including the Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Berlin International Film Festival, imagineNATIVE, and Aspen Shortsfest. In 2014, her film Wakening won the Outstanding Canadian Short Film Award at the ReelWorld Film Festival and in 2013, her film Barefoot received a special mention at the Berlin International Film Festival. Her work has been broadcast on ARTE, CBC, Air Canada, and Movieola. She currently programs Canadian features for the Toronto International Film Festival and is the former Artistic Director of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. She has curated the award-winning Embargo Collective projects and developed initiatives for the Ontario Arts Council. She has served on the boards of the Toronto Arts Council and the Images Festival. She is an alumna of the National Screen Institute and the TIFF Talent Lab.
Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and studies Indigenous-led media such as games, animations, and comics. She is Anishinaabe from Baawaating with relations at Bay Mills Indian Community, Métis named for Elizabeth Morris, and settler-Irish. She is an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University. Most recently, she developed Thunderbird Strike (2017), which won Best Digital Media at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.
Jean La Rose is a First Nations citizen from the Abenaki First Nation of Odanak in Québec. He spent his summers during his early years in Odanak with his grandparents. He grew up in Ottawa where he studied Journalism at Algonquin College and obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Social Communication at the University of Ottawa/Université St. Paul. He also undertook a Master’s in Public Administration but left after the second year due to family obligations. Since November 2002, Jean La Rose has been the Chief Executive Officer of APTN, the first national Indigenous broadcaster in the world, with programming by, for and about Indigenous Peoples. Since joining the network, he has established it on a strong financial position for long-term growth. The network has grown to four distinct channels including one high-definition channel and now owns and operates two radio stations. ELMNT-FM has HD stations in Ottawa and Toronto since October 2018. APTN’s workforce now totals 200 positions, including radio and provides production opportunities for over 100 Indigenous producers in Canada. The network has also launched a production company, AnimikiSee Digital Productions, as well as a distribution company, AnimikiSee Distribution. All these new ventures operate as arms-length corporations from APTN. Mr. La Rose sits on the Boards of Directors of Indspire, the National Screen Institute, Media Smarts, Mother Earth Recycling (a social enterprise located in Winnipeg). He completed his ICD course (Institute of Corporate Directors) and plans to get his designation in the spring of 2019. He received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award (now known as Indspire Awards) for Media and Communications in 2011, and the CEO HR Champion of the Year Award from the Human Resource Management Association of Manitoba in 2015. He was named “Alumni of the Year” in 2015 by St. Paul University and received an Honorary Diploma in Journalism from La Cité Collégiale in Ottawa in 2015. Mr. La Rose is also the Chair of the Heritage Canada Departmental Audit Committee and served on Minister Joly’s Panel of Experts examining the future of the digital economy as it pertains to the Arts and Culture industries.
Steven Loft is a Mohawk of the Six Nations with Jewish heritage. He is currently the Director of the Creating Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples program with the Canada Council for the Arts. A curator, scholar, writer and media artist, in 2010 he was named Trudeau National Visiting Fellow at Ryerson University in Toronto. Loft has also held positions as Curator-In-Residence, Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada, Director/Curator of the Urban Shaman Gallery (Winnipeg); Aboriginal Curator at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Producer and Artistic Director of the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers’ Association (Hamilton). He has curated group and solo exhibitions across Canada and internationally; written extensively for magazines, catalogues and arts publications and lectured widely in Canada and internationally. Loft co-edited the books Transference, Technology, Tradition: Aboriginal Media and New Media Art (Banff Centre Press, 2005) and Coded Territories: Indigenous Pathways in New Media (University of Calgary Press, 2014).
Jennifer Podemski is an award-winning Film and Television Producer and Actor born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Of mixed Anishinaabe and Ashkenazi descent, Jennifer began performing as a child and continued to hone her skills at the High School of Performing Arts in Toronto. Her career in front of the camera blossomed when she was cast as Pique in CBC's The Diviners followed by a starring role in Bruce McDonald's Dance Me Outside. By the time she was 25, with a long list of credits and awards under her belt, Jennifer grew frustrated by the lack of Indigenous representation behind the camera. Although all of the roles she was awarded as actor were Indigenous characters, she rarely, if ever, saw any Indigenous writers, producers or directors. It was at this time that she met, aspiring producer, Laura Milliken. Together they launched Big Soul Productions, a full-service film and television production company. In her 6 years with Big Soul Productions, Jennifer and Laura produced hundreds of hours of broadcast television. From documentary series to the award winning, multi-season, all Indigenous dramatic television series Moccasin Flats. In 2005, Jennifer branched out on her own and founded Redcloud Studios Inc. Although Jennifer has maintained a successful career as an actor, with roles in Degrassi TNG, Republic of Doyle, Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz and Jimmy P alongside Benicio Del Toro; she is most proud of her starring role in her own film Empire of Dirt which was nominated for 5 Canadian Screen Awards in 2015 including Best Actress (Cara Gee), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Podemski), Best Editing (Jorge Weisz), Best Film (Jennifer Podemski) and a win for Best Screenplay (Shannon Masters). Empire of Dirt premiered at TIFF 2014 and continued to a theatrical release in Canada and is still travelling the world on the film festival circuit. Jennifer is also the creator and producer of APTN's famed paranormal series The Other Side, currently in it's 5th season; she was the Co-Executive Producer and Creative Director of the Indspire Awards for 12 years and is currently directing and producing the second season of her documentary television series Future History for APTN. Recent credits in front of the camera include recurring characters in the TV series’ Blackstone (APTN), Hard Rock Medical (TVO) and Cardinal (CTV). A storyteller behind and in front of the camera, Jennifer is committed to harnessing all platforms to share Indigenous stories and perspectives.
Amos Scott is a Tlicho filmmaker and producer. He is the producer of the documentary series 'Dene A Journey' and of the award-winning feature film 'The Sun At Midnight.' Amos also owns and operates the small video company, Adze Studios Inc. He is also a co-founder of Dene Nahjo which strives for Land, Language and Culture. Forever.
Jesse Wente is an Ojibwe writer, broadcaster, producer and speaker. Born and raised in Toronto, his family hails from Chicago and the Serpent River First Nation. Jesse is best known for his 22 years as a columnist for CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, Jesse spent 11 years with the Toronto International Film Festival, the last seven as the director of film programmes at the TIFF Lightbox.. Jesse is currently co-producing his first film, a screen adaptation of Thomas King’s best-selling book, The Inconvenient Indian. An outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and First Nations, Metis and Inuit art, he has spoken at the International Forum of Indigenous Peoples, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Canadian Arts Summit, the Cultural Summit of the Americas, and numerous Universities and Colleges. In November Jesse delivered the annual Eva Holtby Lecture on Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum. Jesse currently serves on the board of directors for the Canada Council for the Arts and the Toronto Arts Council. In 2017 he was named the inaugural recipient of the Reelworld Film Festival’s Reel Activist Award and recently received the Association of Ontario Health Centres’ Media Award for 2018. Jesse is currently working on his first book for Penguin Random House Canada and in February, Jesse started a new role as the first Director of the Indigenous Screen Office in Canada.
Kerry Swanson has been leading initiatives in Indigenous arts for the last fifteen years at both the grassroots and institutional levels. She has a Masters in Communication and Culture from Ryerson University. She is Chair of the Board for imagineNATIVE, where she was previously Executive Director, and is a co-founder of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto at Harbourfront Centre. As Associate Director of Granting at Ontario Arts Council, Kerry led the creation of the Indigenous Culture Fund, a $5 million annual program. She launched six new funding programs at Toronto Arts Council including the TAC Cultural Leaders Lab at Banff Centre and Indigenous Arts Projects. Kerry was born and raised in Chapleau, northern Ontario, in a family of Cree/Ojibwe, Irish and French heritage. She is a member of Michipicoten First Nation, with familial ties to Chapleau Cree First Nation.
Jamie Monastyrski is the new Manager of Communications and Research for the Indigenous Screen Office. He is a communications and media professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the political, media and arts sectors within Canada and the U.S. He is a citizen of Couchiching First Nation in Treaty #3. He has worked at the Assembly of First Nations, Chiefs of Ontario and Indspire and has also sat on various juries for the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. Jamie has maintained numerous contacts, friends and colleagues and looks forward to contributing to the roots of this organization.
Meg MacKay is a writer and arts administrator of mixed Mi'kmaq and Scottish heritage, originally from Prince Edward Island. Most recently she worked with the Indigenous Culture Fund out of the Ontario Arts Council as a Program Administrator, supporting community, culture, and way of life projects for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples in Ontario. Previously she has worked in event coordination for Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and Native Women in the Arts. She is currently based in Toronto.