Three northern Manitobans learn the essential elements of short-fiction writing with award-winning writer Jordan Wheeler as NSI New Northern Voices online training begins

The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) warmly welcomes NSI New Northern Voices 2021 writers edition participants (above from left) Rochelle Dyrkacz from The Pas, Steven Bignell from Opaskwayak Cree Nation and Ryan Goossen from Gillam. Training begins today with award-winning writer Jordan Wheeler (Arctic Air, renegadepress.com and North of 60).

This part-time, online course is designed to strengthen new and emerging writers’ skills and abilities to craft stories told from a northern Manitoba perspective.

“The NSI team is excited to welcome these northern storytellers to our virtual classroom today,” said program manager Ursula Lawson. “Steven and Rochelle are alumni from the first edition of NSI New Northern Voices so it’s great to further develop their skills, along with Ryan’s, as we work towards growing capacity within the screen industry in The Pas, Manitoba and surrounding areas.”

“We look forward to watching these three stories take shape under the expert support and guidance of Jordan Wheeler.”

Rochelle, Steven and Ryan will develop their short film or web series ideas and learn the essential elements of short-fiction writing for the screen through training workshops and one-on-one story editing consultations with Jordan.

Training topics include story structure, proper formatting, character development and other structural devices.

At the end of the course, participants will have a well-developed script ready to pitch to funders, producers and production companies.

Additionally, one participant will be selected to have their script produced by a NSI New Northern Voices producer trainee and the National Screen Institute in a future edition of the program.

NSI New Northern Voices 2021 writers edition faculty are writer advisor and mentor Jordan Wheeler, program manager Ursula Lawson and program coordinator Sarah Simpson-Yellowquill.

• • •

NSI New Northern Voices 2021 is funded by NSI Indigenous Training Programs Partner Directors Guild of Canada (DGC); Strategic Sponsor Telefilm Canada; Supporting Sponsors StantecRBC Emerging Artists ProjectTELUS Manitoba Community Board, and Super Channel; Provincial Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Industry Supporter Final Draft and Native Communications Inc. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council. More sponsors will be announced as confirmed.


Rochelle Dyrkacz

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Rocki Dee (Dyrkacz) has spent the last 12 years in The Pas.

This writer and newly emerging filmmaker has a passion for connecting with others through media storytelling. Her goal is to acquire an in-depth understanding of screenwriting so she can enhance her work.

She has already completed a film in 2019 (Ni Mama) with NSI New Northern Voices and is very excited to be welcomed back to NSI for the New Northern Voices 2021 writers edition.


Steven Bignell

Steven Bignell was born and raised in Opaskwayak Cree Nation in The Pas, Manitoba.

He is a local Indigenous artist who has been painting for the past 35 years and sold hundreds of original pieces. He has also been involved in cosplay costume making for the past 25 years.

Steven has a keen interest in film and has even had a few roles in productions such as Moccasin Flats, Beyond and extra work in Just Friends and Tideland.

In 2019, with a small crew and local talent, Steven worked on the short horror film Black Ice which premiered at Storytellers’ Film Festival in The Pas and received great reviews.

Steven is currently working on a series of short WW2 films about a Native Canadian soldier.


Ryan Goossen

Ryan Goossen is of both First Nations and Russian ancestry. Born to single mother Tina Schellenberg, Ryan would soon learn what it’s like to have a father, and to be a big brother, when Tina met and married Andy Goossen.

When he was four, Ryan developed a love for music. At times, when he was anxious or upset, he would sing the songs his grandmother taught him. Not long after, he saw the biggest instrument he’d ever seen: the piano. When his grandmother, Eva, would take him to her sister’s house he would play her piano the entire time he was there.

One evening, at one of the Schellenberg Christmas gatherings, the whole family watched James Cameron’s award-winning Titanic. It was that movie that would plant the seed of Ryan’s interest in the art of filmmaking.

One comment

Leave a comment