Introducing the 2019 NSI IndigiDocs producers and directors

Alex Fisher-Bailey Theola Ross Troy Watts Chantell Shaw Sean Parenteau Kelly Roulette Jennifer Ille Sharon Heigl

The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) congratulates the teams selected to the latest NSI IndigiDocs training course. Beginning in February 2019, participants will develop their short documentary projects with training sessions and mentorship from Canada’s most respected documentarians.

  • Alex Fisher-Bailey (producer) and Theola Ross (director), Toronto, ON – Trying to Conceive
  • Troy Watts (producer) and Chantell Shaw (director), Vancouver and Burnaby, BC – May the Bannock Force Be With You
  • Sean Parenteau (producer) and Kelly Roulette (director), Winnipeg, MB and Vancouver, BC – My Oka: 30 Years Later
  • Jennifer Ille (producer) and Sharon Heigl (director), East Vancouver and Surrey, BC – Who Are We?

NSI is also excited to welcome acclaimed artist Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers to the NSI IndigiDocs faculty team as director advisor. She will work alongside Shane Belcourt (who shares the director advisor role), program co-managers Ursula Lawson and Elise Swerhone, associate program manager Kaya Wheeler and producer advisor Brendon Sawatzky. Lisa Meeches is NSI’s Indigenous training programs advisor.

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (ATPN) has been a program partner since the course began in 2012. The network produces and broadcasts a dedicated one-hour special of students’ completed films.

“NSI IndigiDocs has produced outstanding, award-winning short works from Canada’s Indigenous storytellers and we know these students will add to that impressive slate of films,” said Jean La Rose, CEO of APTN. “APTN is a proud partner of this program and we’re privileged to further the professional development of this year’s students by bringing their stories to our audiences and creating important and lasting connections within the industry.”

Students also get the opportunity for their individual films to appear on documentary Channel, and

NSI IndigiDocs provides training, mentorship and up to $16K in cash towards film production. Training includes attendance at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto, and post-production services and mentorship at the National Film Board in Montreal.

“NSI IndigiDocs gave me the support I needed and the platform I hoped for with Cree Code Talker,” said program graduate Alexandra Lazarowich. “The combination of practical training and mentorship was so valuable and helped make Cree Code Talker the film it is. The incoming students have a lot to look forward to.”

Most recently, Cedar Tree of Life, developed and made through NSI IndigiDocs by director Odessa Shuquaya and producer April Johnson in 2016-17, screened at festivals in San Francisco, Edmonton, New York, Paris, Santa Fe, Cincinnati and more, winning best direction at Buddha International Film Festival in India.

From Up North, developed and made through NSI IndigiDocs by director Trudy Stewart and producer Janine Windolph in 2016-17, won the International Indigenous Award at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival in New Zealand in 2017.

Cree Code Talker, developed and made through NSI IndigiDocs by director Alexandra Lazarowich and producer Cowboy Smithx in 2015-16, won the Gil Cardinal Documentary Award at the 2017 Dreamspeaker Film Festival in Edmonton.

NSI IndigiDocs is funded by Program Partners APTN, Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and RBC Emerging Artists Project; Boot Camp Presenting Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Strategic Sponsors the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) and documentary Channel; Supporting Sponsors Telefilm Canada, Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association (SMPIA), Corus Entertainment, Breakthrough Entertainment and the Jim Murphy Filmmakers Bursary; Provincial Sponsors Manitoba Film & Music and Creative BC through the Daryl Duke and William Vince Scholarship Fund; Industry Partners the National Film Board of Canada and the Directors Guild of Canada; Industry Supporters imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival and Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival; and Service Sponsor Line 21 Media. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

Meet this year’s participants

Alex Fisher-Bailey (producer)

Alex Fisher-Bailey

Alex Fisher-Bailey is an Indigenous producer, writer and director from Toronto. Her work focuses on exploring stories from traditionally unexplored perspectives.

She attended Concordia University’s film production BFA program and graduated in 2017. Her work has been shown by the Governor General’s Office, Al Jazeera, VICE, CBC, and over 50 festivals worldwide. She is thankful for NSI’s dedication to sharing diverse voices on screen.

Theola Ross (director)

Theola Ross

Theola Ross is from Pimichikamak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba and speaks Cree.

Twilight Dancers is her directorial debut. The film, a CBC short doc, has been shown widely both nationally and internationally. She is a recent graduate of the bachelor of social work program at Ryerson University. Toronto is her second home.

She has experience working with individuals struggling with social-cultural context within social discourse. Her experience includes both being raised on-reserve and living in an urban setting.

Troy Watts (producer)

Troy Watts

Troy Watts was born in Vancouver and has Metis and English heritage.

Troy has an education in journalism and has worked on Vancouver Island as a journalist and editor for an independent online daily.

He recently completed a film boot camp where he worked on two short films, writing and producing one of them. They were showcased at Vancouver’s Indigenous International Film Festival in November 2018.

He has always had an interest in film and television and hopes to one day write a documentary series and a feature film.

Chantell Shaw (director)

Chantell Shaw

Chantell Shaw is a young First Nations woman from the Kaska Dene people of southern Yukon and northern British Columbia.

She has worked with a diverse range of people and projects throughout her career, including mining exploration, at Sundog Carving studio, with Elders through her healthcare assistant certification, and film boot camp run through ACCESS.

At ACCESS she contributed her skills as an art director, PA, drone operator, script supervisor and extra to a team of students producing their very first films. The completed films aired at Vancouver’s Indigenous International Film Festival.

Sean Parenteau (producer)

Sean Parenteau

Sean Parenteau is a multi award-winning filmmaker, facilitator, talent manager, entrepreneur, owner/operator and director of photography (DOP).

Sean is a proud Ojibway and Cree with Metis ancestry, originally from Duck Bay, Manitoba.

He is a graduate of Red River College’s Aboriginal broadcast training initiative in 1998, which was the first course of its kind in Canada. Since then he has accumulated over 20 years of experience in broadcasting, sports and documentary filmmaking and is an award-winning cinematographer/DOP.

Sean’s passions and medicine wheel include land-based teachings, language, health and education. He is is also a role model within his community and is currently a successful business owner/ operator of Red Root Productions. He worked on the crew for season four of the Eagle Vision-produced series Taken.

Sean’s Indian name is Flocks with Eagles.

Kelly Roulette (director)

Kelly Roulette

Kelly Roulette (Ojibwe) is a former social justice lawyer who graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School. She held law licenses from the Law Society of Upper Canada and Law Society of British Columbia. Following a legal career, she returned to the arts with a focus on expanding her writing skills.

Kelly’s love for the dramatic began with a brief stint as an actor with Vancouver’s Spirit Song Theatre School. She has also worked for several Canwest Global properties as an on-air host and producer.

Since then, Kelly graduated from Simon Fraser University with a certificate in creative writing from The Writers Studio, and subsequently completed its adjunct manuscript program. She has published some non-fiction stories but has since returned to video production.

Jennifer Ille (producer)

Jennifer Ille

Jennifer Ille was born in Heidelberg, Germany and graduated from the University of Applied Sciences in Wiesbaden. For her final project a fellow student and herself flew to Nelson, BC to create a short documentary and teaser trailer about the city.

In 2016 she moved to Vancouver and worked in various media industries and as a talent partner. She began volunteering as a first assistant director (AD) and has created corporate videos for clients.

She recently graduated from the ACCESS film boot camp, where she and her team created two short films within eight weeks. Jennifer worked on both projects as a project coordinator and first AD. Both films were showcased at the Indigenous International Film Festival in Vancouver.

Sharon Heigl (director)

Sharon Heigl

Sharon Heigl worked in the non-profit sector for over 25 years and, at age 50, made a career change. She decided to nurture her art skills and went to a specialized arts program in Alberta where she learned to tan hides, do leatherwork, paint, sculpt wood and soapstone, weld and more.

She did some acting on the set of Jamestown for last three seasons and, after returning to BC, was accepted into film boot camp at ACCESS where she was part of a team that created and shot two short films that were shown at the International Indigenous Film Festival in Vancouver.

Sharon has a passion for cinema and is creating and directing her own documentaries and films.

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All media enquiries

Laura Friesen, Manager, Communications & Alumni Relations
Tel: 204.957.2999 or email:

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