Daunted by online learning, the CBC New Indigenous Voices class of 2020 met the challenge and formed meaningful friendships

Students of 2020 above from top left: Faith Gore, Matthew Tenute, Sarah Carrier, Nathaniel Magbanua; bottom from left: Seth Arcand, Janell Henry, AJ Wastasecoot

Students of 2020 above from top left: Faith Gore, Matthew Tenute, Sarah Carrier, Nathaniel Magbanua; bottom from left: Seth Arcand, Janell Henry, AJ Wastasecoot

It seems like only yesterday the newest CBC New Indigenous Voices students began training. On December 10, they officially graduated during a special online ceremony joined by family and friends, faculty, partners and National Screen Institute staff.

The 2020 edition of this 14-week, full-time program – aimed at accelerating the careers of emerging Indigenous creators in Canada – was redesigned for learning during a pandemic. NSI elevated what has historically been a classroom-based learning model to a dynamic, customized online program – which means the students never actually got to meet in-person. That didn’t stop them forming friendships and creating some amazing podcasts with faculty member Kim Wheeler.

We’re going to miss the class of 2020. As program manager Kaya Wheeler told us, “I shared many hours with the students. They were the first thing I thought of every morning and the last thing I thought of every evening.”

On their way out the door, we asked them for a final writing assignment to wrap up their time in the program.

Seth Arcand

Seth Arcand

CBC New Indigenous Voices has been an incredible experience. I don’t know if we were prepared for how much we were going to learn in the program.

The program was incredibly executed by the team at NSI. Kaya Wheeler [program manager] and Sarah Simpson-Yellowquill [Indigenous programs and administrative assistant] were incredible leaders and I’m proud to have met them, and hope to work with them more in the future.

It was an incredible blessing and honour to meet and work with: Sarah Carrier, Faith Gore, Janell Henry, Nate Magbanua, Matt Tenute, and AJ Wastasecoot, and I look forward to seeing the impact they have in the industry; the creativity and capability of these people is incredible and I know they’re going to be people to watch.

I learned a lot about my own abilities as well. The projects we did through the program pushed me to work harder and take my work more seriously. The mentors we had made everything less intimidating and run so smoothly because of their immense knowledge and ability.

My interests have changed. I found I took more of an interest in the technical aspects of filmmaking, and how you can have a career in any aspect of filmmaking. I still want to be writing, directing and producing, but there is the choice to pursue my career in many facets of filmmaking.

I really enjoyed: getting to know the other students, the mentors and learning more about the industry as a whole. Being immersed in knowledge from people experienced in the industry was a great experience and something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Kininaskomitin Kaya, Sarah, NSI, CBC and all the amazing people who took time out of their lives to share their knowledge with all of us.

Sarah Carrier

Sarah Carrier

Firstly, I want to thank everyone who has been part of this program, and my fellow participants. It was a truly valuable experience and I enjoyed every part of it.

When we were starting this program in September, I was excited but also very apprehensive about what the course would look like. I was unsure of the format of online learning, and the prospect of getting to know people through Zoom was very daunting.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find inspiration through something so intangible but, as the course continued on, it became such a substantial experience that I wouldn’t change.

I felt a camaraderie as we were overcoming the barrier of not being [together] in person, and I think we became closer as a group because of it. In addition, the course material taught me so many valuable things about the Canadian film industry that I previously had not even considered. I feel like the opportunities we as young Indigenous creators have going forward are endless.

The guest lectures we had the privilege of listening to were all wonderful as well. The coursework and development we were able to do was a great learning experience, and I had fun creating my own podcast. I did not anticipate that the process would be so collaborative and meaningful online, but it exceeded my expectations.

I went into this program primarily interested in editing and camerawork. I also quietly hoped to pursue directing and writing but was not totally confident in my skill set. Now, at the end of this program, I feel as though I can pursue a wide variety of roles in this industry, including and especially writing and directing my own work.

I truly felt like Sarah, Kaya, the guests we had, and everyone at NSI believed in us and our work, and that is what I will take with me and remember the most from this program.

I looked forward to logging onto Zoom every morning and feeling inspired – and sharing that with my fellow participants. Looking back, that is what I will miss the most. I hope we can all meet in person someday, but until then – miigwech.

Janell Henry

Janell Henry

I really enjoyed being part of CBC New Indigenous Voices.

Participating online made our curriculum even more interesting. Each of us was able to talk about our own situations from different areas of the city and different areas of the country. We learned how different our respective regions functioned from the classic differing time zones, differing pandemic restrictions and differing resources available to us regionally.

We participated in over 40 workshops over three months learning through an Indigenous lens. Strategically, we met many others working in the industry all to talk about the creative, technical and business aspects of filmmaking and the creative industry.

One of the key things that resonated with me was the power of story. Embarrassingly, for me I will admit, I sometimes forget about how to utilize the elements of creating a strong story.

What I enjoyed the most was with the inclusion of [Traditional] teachings. I felt very comfortable and was able to feel more connected to the content.

Now the program has ended, my interests haven’t necessarily changed, but I go forward with greater understanding. I am able to see differences in responsibilities of jobs in the industry and with this greater knowledge, I see greater possibility. Thank you to all those that took time out of their day to talk to our group.

Nathaniel Magbanua

Nathaniel Magbanua

After completing the program, I can confidently say it has been an exponential stepping stone towards my growth as a filmmaker.

Over the last few months, I learned so many skills and gained knowledge about the film industry that I never knew. After completing the program I can definitely say that it more than met my expectations.

From learning how to pitch a project, producing our own projects, along with all the amazing creative opportunities that were presented to us through the instructors, each and every class was super informative and packed with invaluable skills that always kept me looking forward towards the next thing ahead.

The thing I will miss most is the class time we were able to spend together during the first phase of the program. Kaya and Sarah were amazing instructors and it was an amazing experience being able to meet and connect with everyone in the program during our short time together.

Matthew Tenute

Now that the [CBC New Indigenous Voices] program has come to an end I feel I have a more of a broad understanding of how the film industry operates and how everything comes together as a whole.

Entering into the program I felt like I didn’t know much about the technical side and it kind of intimidated me knowing this. Now, after completing the program, I feel entirely more comfortable and confident with the knowledge I have gained within the film realm.

Through this opportunity, I gained first-hand experience in the film industry, built my capacity in the realm of documentary filmmaking and various other technical skills in film.

Even though we were all separated from one another as a class, I really felt like I built meaningful friendships and relationships with the other students and instructors. It’s hard to believe that we all haven’t actually met in real life but, funnily enough, it almost feels as if we have all known each other for ages.

Without question, I am very excited to one day work (in person) with the program alumni, mentors and anyone else I have networked with and met throughout the program.

The daily check-in over a pot of coffee in the morning with my fellow students and instructors discussing what was on the schedule for the day/week was my favorite way to start the day. We would discuss everything: what was going on in the film world, whether it was to do with life in general during these difficult and unprecedented times.

I’ll be missing the workshops and all the networking opportunities we were given for future work possibilities.

I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to get a head start in the film industry and for the tremendous networking and job possibilities.

Chi-Miigwetch to everyone that I have met throughout this program. I couldn’t have done it without you! Much love. Baamaapii (until later), Gigaawaabamin Miinwaa (see you again).

AJ Wastasecoot

This program was a great experience. I feel so thankful that I got to be a participant, especially in spite of all the new challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us.

I’m also very thankful for the support, patience and encouragement from Kaya and Sarah.

I found the information sessions very insightful and motivating. I started this program with directing as my goal, but as time went on I found myself becoming more interested in cinematography and writing.

I enjoyed practicing skills like pitching and interviewing. I’m thankful I got the experience of sharing my ideas in a welcoming, positive learning environment.

The knowledge shared with me is invaluable. And although it feels like I’m leaving the nest, I’m comforted knowing that at least I’ve got the instructions to fly.

Ekosi!

• • •

CBC New Indigenous Voices is funded by Title, Presenting and Tuition Sponsor CBC; Program Partners Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage, the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD), Telefilm Canada; Indigenous Training Programs Partner Directors Guild of Canada; Supporting Sponsors Corus Entertainment, Super Channel; Provincial Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Industry Supporters IATSE Local 856imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival; Service Sponsors iSplice Films, Final Draft. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

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