Presented by the National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI)
Above top row from left: Ursula Lawson (program manager), Kaya Wheeler (associate manager), Daniel Bear, Adeline Bird, Damian Frazee; bottom row: Rhonda Lucy, Jon Berg, Cynthia Murdock, Diandre Thomas-Hart, Shauntelle George, Joe Courchene
Our CBC New Indigenous Voices 2018 students recently began the 14-week training course in Winnipeg. As they settle in and get to know each other, we asked them about their backgrounds, interests and what they hope to get out of the course.
Daniel Bear (Winnipeg)
I’m an 18-year-old Indigenous filmmaker born in Winnipeg although I’ve been all over Manitoba. Filmmaking has always been a passion of mine but in the past few years I’ve made it not only my career but also my life goal to do what I love.
I’ve worked on a few films and shows over the course of my still young career and have even had the opportunity to write, star in and help direct a documentary with CBC titled Fourth Period Burnout along with two other amazing writers.
I first heard of CBC New Indigenous Voices through my mentors, Madison Thomas and Darcy Waite (a grad of CBC New Indigenous Voices and NSI IndigiDocs), who told me that I’d learn everything I needed to know to be in the industry. I leapt on the opportunity as fast as possible. I wanted to learn about my art form and the people in it while also learning about my beautiful roots and culture. I want to learn about my specific career path of directing and, through the course, I’m able to do that and so much more.
Working with eight other like-minded people has helped me a lot in ways I couldn’t see before. It’s given me a larger sense of community and the courage to speak out about issues I was previously quiet about. My classmates have already all helped me be a better person and filmmaker and I look forward to continuing my work with them.
Jon Berg (Burnaby)
I’m a 27-year-old Métis male from Dryden, Ontario and a graduate of the York University commerce program in Toronto.
After working in the financial industry for several years, I finally began pursuing my lifelong dream of working in film which has led me all around the country and finally to Winnipeg.
I’ve had a love of storytelling ever since I was a little kid. I was an avid reader growing up and was completely obsessed with movies so, naturally, I began working on creations of my own. I want to share the excitement I get from a good story with audiences all around the world and this program is finally giving me the opportunity to do just that.
I applied for CBC New Indigenous Voices because it will give me the chance to learn practical skills that passion alone can’t make up for.
Growing up far away from the city, film school didn’t seem like a real option so I missed out on a lot of knowledge that is necessary to survive in the industry.
After I graduate from this program, not only will I have a foundation to build my career upon, but I’ll have the confidence to go out and achieve my goals like never before. I’ve already started my own company, Gate Night Productions, and I plan on using the skills I learn here to produce the next great wave of Canadian horror films.
It’s really inspiring to be part of a group like this. We all had different paths coming into the program but we share the same goal of working in the industry so we already understand and relate to each other.
Succeeding in any creative field is a tall order but with a team around you to support you, it actually feels possible. I really hope that others can look at us for similar inspiration – if we can make it, so can you!
Adeline Bird (Winnipeg)
Growing up I always knew having a voice would be part of my journey.
My name is Adeline Bird and my spirit name is Strong Hearted Eagle Women. I am Afro-Indigenous from Rolling River First Nations. My mother is Ojibwe and my biological father is from Tanzania in Africa. I was born in Brandon, Manitoba, but I’ve spent most of my life in Winnipeg.
Back in 2014, my friend and now business partner Roger Boyer (a grad of CBC New Indigenous Voices and NSI IndigiDocs) and I started a web series titled Style & Soul, which eventually aired on Shaw TV Winnipeg. A year later we re-launched the platform and renamed it Soul Unexpected – it went from a web series to podcast.
Through my experience, I have come to fall in love with the many dimensions of media. I also have some experience producing short films.
I heard many great things about NSI through the people I’ve worked with or have interviewed on my podcast. I have a passion for storytelling through writing and producing. My dream is to produce and direct TV and/or web series that reflect my reality.
I’m excited to learn about the ins and outs of what it takes to produce films, write scripts and market my work.
In the next year or two, I see myself working with a production or broadcasting company to gain more experience and learn.
I’m looking forward to making new friends and getting to know everyone over the next 14 weeks!
Joe Courchene (Winnipeg)
I am 22 years old and a creative.
I was born in North Vancouver but grew up in Winnipeg. I’m interested in art. I make music, videos and I paint. I grew up making skate videos but now I want to tell stories and create worlds within film.
I applied to CBC New Indigenous Voices because it sounded like the perfect program to shape my skills to become a professional filmmaker. I hope to gain a wealth of knowledge and better understanding of the ins and outs of the industry.
I feel extremely excited about being in a group with others who share this common thread of creativity and passion for film.
Damian Frazee (Winnipeg)
I am a single father of two beautiful children. I’m also an Aboriginal photographer and videographer/independent filmmaker. I was born in Digby, Nova Scotia. I’m 31 years young and grew up in Winnipeg where I’ve lived for most of my life.
When I have free time I enjoy writing to music. I enjoy the outdoors, hiking, biking and exploring new places.
I tend to have my camera with me everywhere I go. I love to capture life’s moments. I love landscapes and architecture. I love to stay busy. I like to stay productive. I enjoy shooting and editing videos. And I love to travel and take day trips with my children whenever time allows.
My background experience in the industry is little to none. I attended Tec Voc’s radio and television program in 2009. Through Tec Voc I did a work placement with Shaw TV as a cable puller and cameraman assistant. I have experience in audio and video recording. I shoot YouTube videos. And I also have video editing skills on a number of different software programs. I have no certifications from anywhere: I’m a self taught cameraman. I’ve been a freelance photographer and videographer for hire since 2010 and have a registered business called 3D Visualz Video & Photography. I also have a photography studio located next to the Graffiti Art Gallery in Winnipeg.
I heard about NSI back in 2010 doing my own research about local Winnipeg opportunities. That’s when I realized I wanted to work in the industry. I applied then and didn’t get in. The reason I applied to NSI was because NSI is national. Out of all the programs and courses available in Winnipeg, NSI had the platform and connections no one else had. So for me it was a no-brainer.
Through the course, I hope to gain a huge pool of contacts. I hope to network. I also hope to gain new knowledge. I’m attentive and hungry. I wanna take everything from this program and run with it. I hope to make my own projects in the future. With my goals and dreams I want to be a independent documentary filmmaker and storyteller.
I’d like to be a director or director of photography. I’m a visual guy, so when I hear stories I already have a view of the scene. I also love cameras. So maybe a camera operator could be a nice venture for me too.
I get along with everybody. So joining the group is awesome. I’m excited to travel this journey with them. And everybody seems to get along so far. Everybody has different goals, so who knows, we might just be one awesome production team in and of itself.
I’m excited to learn everything in the industry. I can’t wait to see what I’m good at.
Shauntelle George (Winnipeg)
I am a self proclaimed movie geek. As far back as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed watching movies. In fact the first one I recall watching was Leprechaun. I feel like a lot of movie lovers always say it was the horror genre that first hooked them.
When you first meet me I’m shy but if there’s a debate about film I could talk forever. I’m a homebody who likes to use her free time to watch movies and television.
I was born in The Pas, Manitoba but was raised in Winnipeg. My main interests have always been in the creative side of things. I like to do artwork such as painting, and recently learned how to bead. Makeup is also one of my interests because, again, it’s another format that allows me to be creative and is something I learned to do on my own.
On my mother’s side we are from Chemawawin Cree Nation in Manitoba but I grew up in the city and only went back to visit my grandmother (until she came to live with us).
In high school, my best friend told me about the Aboriginal Arts Training Program at Manitoba Theatre for Young People. While there, I was cast in two plays, Wings of Darkness and Singing Shards. That was the start of my love of acting so, after I graduated, I moved to Toronto to attend the Toronto Film School to study acting for film, television and theatre for a year and a half.
When I came home I ended up getting a retail job but, over the next few years, started to write more to build up my confidence as a writer. That made me realize how much I enjoyed writing about movies. I did have a month’s worth of experience writing film reviews for a website. I learned that writing reviews isn’t just about giving your opinion on what makes a good movie – you have to really study the film itself. Details are important.
Retail was never what I wanted to do and I felt like it was time to focus on a career, and film is really what makes me happy. I can’t see myself doing anything else which is why I applied for CBC New Indigenous Voices. The opportunity to learn everything really appealed to me.
Getting more involved with my culture was another reason I gravitated to this course. I can’t wait to see where that takes me because my culture is important to me.
My three main career goals are to continue to grow as a writer – I would love to develop more scripts, especially those I’ve written in my own time. I want to further my experience in film critique because there aren’t many female film critics in the business. I still want to pursue acting too.
It’s always encouraging to meet other people who have the same passion as you. Courses and schooling similar to this one always put you out there to push yourself. Knowing you aren’t alone is a benefit because everyone is going through the same thing. It’s a great chance to build friendships.
Rhonda Lucy (Toronto)
My name is Tsiksinensawe Yakonkwe (Butterfly Woman) Rhonda Lucy. My spirit name is Speaker of Many Words, One Who Brings Light. I am Wolf clan, Mohawk, Sioux from Florida, Missouri, born in Brantford, Ontario outside Six Nations.
I am a performance artist, mask and costume maker, dancer, writer, musician and director with training in theatre. I’m also a spokesperson for the Toronto Indigenous Business Association. In 2016 I was named Female Youth Indigenous Leader of the Year by the Inspirit Foundation.
I have a background in social work on the front lines and started blending my arts and traditional knowledge into unique programs for trauma recovery, education and harm reduction.
In 2015 I founded – and am artistic director of – Sun Raven Arts. I also facilitate at University of Toronto, Ryerson University and York University in Indigenous history, policy and education. I ran workshops and a lecture series about leadership, management and goal setting through Indigenous governance perspectives at the Activate Youth Leadership Conference at Ryerson University.
I do consulting on a wide range of healing arts programs and production. I’m looking to grow and transform these skills and experiences into ways that fit this industry.
My mission is to empower voices through the arts – that’s how I survived my own life before reaching a point when I could finally give back.
I applied to CBC New Indigenous Voices to further my career goals and experience: I want to be a filmmaker and producer to share my stories and help others share theirs. I will use these tools to direct and create Indigenous film from the perspective of the Indigenous lens that’s accessible to everyone.
I love public speaking and presenting ideas. I love creating in teams and bringing things to life and light. I am very excited about working with this group. Everyone has something amazing they bring to the table. We have a powerful voice drawn from different directions yet we are connected by our roots.
Cynthia Murdock (Winnipeg)
Tansi! I’m Cynthia Murdock and I currently reside in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I am a registered band member of Fisher River Cree Nation.
My interests include jotting down potential story ideas, writing scripts, listening to anything by Fleetwood Mac and Queen, reading the latest book by an Indigenous author, or watching the latest film at the theatre.
I’ve always had an interest in film ever since I can remember. As a child, I took drama classes for two years at a local church and would write stories in my personal journal all the time. In university I took film courses, a playwright course at Prairie Theatre Exchange and graduated with a diploma in television and radio broadcasting.
I am excited to be part of CBC New Indigenous Voices 2018. I applied because I knew I would be gaining a lot of experience, both in class and hands-on. And it’s amazing what alumni from this program are doing now.
I expect to gain hands-on experience in storytelling, directing and pitching, and meet and network with like-minded people and mentors currently working in the industry.
I’ve always been a writer and imagined myself doing it professionally in the industry but, in recent years, I’ve grown to like directing too. I’m always visualizing the setting, characters and shots while I write. I hope to bring my scripts to life after the program and feel that, with the workshops and teachings, I’ll have the tools and knowledge to do that.
Meeting and getting to know my classmates has been fun, exciting and easy. We’re all here for similar reasons and with the same mindset. I feel like we’re already a family. I look forward to coming into the studio every day to learn and discuss film and story ideas with them.
Diandre Thomas-Hart (Winnipeg)
Tansi, Boozhoo, nitishnakason Oskinekiskweo Kawechikapaystawat Mikisewak, Muskwa dodem, Win Nippe nidoonji.
Hello, my spirit name is Young Woman who Stands among the Eagles. I am Bear Clan and born and raised in Winnipeg. My given name is Diandre Thomas-Hart and I am a community leader, changemaker and emerging filmmaker. My mother is from the Peguis First Nation community and my father is from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, also known as Nelson House, Manitoba.
Growing up as a young Cree-Ojibway woman, I was always interested in the arts. As a kid, I took professional arts training such as acting and improvisation through the Aboriginal Arts Training and Mentorship Program at Manitoba Theatre for Young People to escape my reality while living in the north end of the city and being raised by a single mother.
Without the arts, I would’ve been on a totally different path and I’m thankful every day for the opportunities provided to Indigenous youth. I have a background in theatre, business, film and event management. These mediums have helped me learn and grow extensively and show me my path to pursue a career in the film and television industry.
I applied to CBC New Indigenous Voices this year because, in the past two years, I became friends with people who graduated through the program and they’re doing exceptionally well in their fields of interest. I saw how it helped them practice and utilize their skills to work and create their own visions in media.
The program means a lot to me so I expect to be able to learn a lot, utilize and improve upon my current skills and get to work with amazing mentors and professionals. I’m excited to see how each of the students will grow and succeed after the course. This is a great opportunity to (hopefully) create a short film and I’m excited to help others with theirs.
My ultimate career goal is to become a producer of Indigenous film, specifically because I want to see more content that’s made for and by Indigenous people in mainstream mediums. I want to focus on employing Indigenous peoples in the film and media industries because I know that there is a growing need here in Canada for Indigenous stories.
As Indigenous peoples, I believe it’s important for us to tell our stories the way we want them to be portrayed, and they need to be told from an Indigenous perspective. I want to help others develop a creative space for storytelling through media arts.
I am honoured and privileged to be here with eight other emerging and like-minded Indigenous people.
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CBC New Indigenous Voices is funded by: Title, Presenting and Tuition Sponsor CBC; Program Partners Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage, the Centre for Aborginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD) and Telefilm Canada; Supporting Sponsors Corus Entertainment and Breakthrough Entertainment; Provincial Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Industry Partner the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC); Industry Supporter imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival; and Service Sponsor William F. White. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.