Get to know the CBC New Indigenous Voices class of 2021: in their own words

Top row from left: Anonda Canadien, Ariyah Pierre, Jordan Kelly, Holly Smith, Brittany Monkman; bottom row: Aiyana Hart, Logan Nadeau, Desiree Brightnose, John Wapioke

Top row from left: Anonda Canadien, Ariyah Pierre, Jordan Kelly, Holly Smith, Brittany Monkman; bottom row: Aiyana Hart, Logan Nadeau, Desiree Brightnose, John Wapioke

At the start of June 2021, the National Screen Institute welcomed nine students to CBC New Indigenous Voices – a full-time, 14-week online training program for Indigenous creators aged 18 to 35 to build their media careers and learn the essential elements of working in the film, TV and digital media industries.

Students are several weeks into training so we asked them to complete a writing assignment telling you a bit about themselves. This is what they had to say.


Desiree Brightnose

Desiree Brightnose

Tansi! My name is Desiree Brightnose. I am a Cree woman from Chemawawin Cree Nation, but I was born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba. I am currently living in Winnipeg where I work as a film production manager for Kejic Productions as well as a video technical instructor for Broadway Neighbourhood’s After School Leader’s program.

When I am not behind a camera or editing, you can usually find me playing video games, watching true crime videos and spending time outdoors with my fiancé Billy and our furbaby Nova.

Before moving to Winnipeg, I attended Assiniboine Community College’s interactive media arts – media specialization program where I studied video production and graduated Valedictorian in 2020. It was through this program that I gained experience in live production, radio and was able to shoot and direct my first short documentary Red Ice which follows a young Cree man who talks about his experience with racism in hockey.

It was my mentor Erica Daniels that led me to apply to CBC New Indigenous Voices. As an alumna of the program, she was able to tell me about all the great things she learned and how much it helped her become the storyteller she is today.

What I expect out of CBC New Indigenous Voices is to network and learn more about the industry through professionals. It is also a great opportunity to connect and bond with other inspiring filmmakers across Turtle Island.

The type of career I am pursuing is in cinematography and editing, but [I] also [want to become] a strong, well-rounded storyteller to help Indigenous voices share their story through an Indigenous lens. With my production company, Tilted Teepee Productions, I hope to one day achieve that.

Overall, I am very grateful to participate in a program like this during these tough times. I am truly blessed to connect with fellow, like-minded creatives in a safe place and continue to build my career.

Ekosi.


Anonda Canadien

Anonda Canadien

My name is Anonda and I was raised on the lands of my people, the Dehcho Dene in Deh Gah Got’ie of Denendeh which is Fort Providence, Northwest Territories in English.

I’m grateful to my parents for taking my brother and I out on the land, speaking to us in the language Dene Zhatie, and making sure my brother and I know where we come from and who we come from.

As a young girl, I entered writing contests and wrote stories for fun. I expressed my creativity through my writing, read a lot of books and wrote from what I knew. I knew then – a little girl in eighth grade – that I was going to be a writer. I’ve been told by people that there’s little money in it, but I wasn’t in it for the money. I was in it to express myself, to tell those who would listen to my many stories waiting to be written.

I know now that I don’t want to be just one thing. I want to be skilled in multiple areas whether it be beading or filming a short in my backyard. I didn’t know I had the passion to create and produce films until I got into theatre. My love for performing and seeing things differently came from there. When I’d watch plays or films I’d find myself dissecting the characters and camera angles. I knew then that I wanted to produce films but didn’t know where to begin. That is until I saw the post about CBC New Indigenous Voices.

I came across it one day when I was scrolling on social media; I clicked the link and immediately I was intrigued. I’m excited and ready to learn in this program, especially about all the elements of the industry. I’m unsure about the path I want to pursue, however I’m aware that I’m young and this is just the beginning for me. I do know this: I want to gain the skills and mindset in this industry to create, plan and see the final product of whatever it may be.

The program is online due to the pandemic and, though it’s unfortunate, I’m still grateful and glad to be in this training and be in a safe space with like-minded people. And with little limitations, like Wi-Fi and quietness, I’m still able to create in my free time doing beading and sewing.


Aiyana Hart

Aiyana Hart

My name is Aiyana Hart. My pronouns are she / her, and I live a healthy and spiritual lifestyle.

I am a proud member of the Ceg-A-Kin (Carry-The Kettle) Nakoda First Nation in Saskatchewan where my mother is from. I also recognize my father’s home fire Nisichawayasihk (Nelson House) Cree Nation. But I am born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I acknowledge my life by experiences with sports, my creativity and my education.

I have been told numerous times that I am a rough and tough athlete because of the sports I participated in.

When I was 12 I started playing football on a girl’s football league with the North Winnipeg Nomads. When high school came around I went into my school’s football team with Sisler Spartans JV team for my freshman year. When I was 13 I started taking Muay Thai kickboxing lessons. I also joined high school wrestling – I aspired to become a UFC fighter.

Since I can remember, I have always taken art classes through the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I was mentored by an amazing artist called Wanda Luna. I have always enjoyed expressing myself through my creativity. Drawing with a Sharpie-like pen on a blank white page expressing my creativity with many lines and textures was the style of art I have always enjoyed.

My first time participating in the film industry was in 2017: I was part of a documentary called the Orange Daisy Project. Through the Orange Daisy Project I was a keynote speaker and ambassador promoting positive mental health for teenagers.

In 2018, my family was part of a series called First Contact which was an amazing opportunity teaching non-Indigenous people our history, culture and present realities.

In 2020, I was an extra playing a missing Indigenous woman on Burden of Truth. This involvement in the film industry peaked my interest and I started looking at ways of learning more about the industry.

[The same year] I took a two-day course with film makeup artist Alisha Talbot through Film Training Manitoba. After that course, I took an online course at MC College and received my makeup artistry certificate.

At the beginning of 2021, I was approached by a mentor who knew about my skills as a makeup artist and hired me for a film she was producing. This led to a job as assistant makeup artist for Nina McArthur on two films. Putting my love of art and makeup together has been my passion and now I am an Indigenous makeup artist in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I fell in love with the atmosphere of film production. When the opportunity came to apply for the CBC New Indigenous Voices program, I knew this was a great way to expand my knowledge in film production. This experience can only enhance my makeup artistry and open new doors.

My expectation for this program is to not only learn about film and media, but also myself as an artist. Thus far, the teachings have brought out a different creative aspect I never knew I had. And I cannot wait for what comes next in this program.

I want to bring together my love of art and makeup and traditional teachings with storytelling. I want to teach our young people how beautiful our Indigenous features are and how strong our people and traditional teachings are.

[Despite learning online during COVID I find it] amazing we are all still able to communicate. I love how we all added each other on social media. We are all up to date with each other’s goals and ambitions, and it just feels amazing to be in a group with other talented, resilient Indigenous people.


Jordan Kelly

Jordan Kelly

Boozhoo, Giiyetinasong ndizhinikaaz, awasisi ndootem, Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation ndoonjii. My English name is Jordan Kelly and I am from the Bullhead clan. I am from and currently reside in Ojibways of Onigaming First Nations in northwestern Ontario.

I [studied] digital film production at Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. After that I went to Durham College’s advanced filmmaking program in Oshawa, Ontario. While attending Durham College, I was accepted into the Doc Accelerator for emerging filmmakers at Hot Docs International Film Festival in 2018.

I went to film school intending to focus on writing and directing but fell into cinematography during my first year. In my second year I became the peer tutor for my program and decided to focus on writing and directing while also continuing to learn about cinematography. In college, I also became interested in photography.

One of the reasons I applied for the CBC New Indigenous Voices program is that I wanted to acquire further education [around] my other interests in the film and media business.

Learning from industry professionals is a valuable resource in achieving my goal. I also applied to learn more about producing and the business side of a career as a filmmaker. I took time off pursuing my filmmaking career for family reasons and right after that the pandemic shut everything down. I felt I needed a refresh when I wanted to get back to work pursuing a filmmaking career. This program has already exceeded all of my expectations and I am looking forward to what’s in store for us as the program progresses.

The [path] I am pursuing in the industry is writing and directing. Also, I’d like to produce my own short films (documentary and scripted). For my smaller projects I’d like to shoot my own short docs and scripted films. Even though my storytelling focus has changed, my love for cinematography has not.

Attending this program online was an ideal scenario. Even though I knew I was going to be fully vaccinated by the time the program started, I did not want to risk bringing the virus back home to the kids in my family that currently can’t be vaccinated. It was also a more ideal way financially for me that the program takes place online.

Chi miigwech.


Brittany Monkman

Brittany Monkman

Greetings! My name is Brittany Monkman of Fisher River Cree Nation. I grew up in Selkirk, Manitoba.

When I watched movies and television in my youth and childhood I imagined seeing my name in the credits of whatever I was watching. In school, I also developed a love for writing.

I’ve always enjoyed being a creative individual, whether it be hands-on crafting, doing hair or using my own wild imagination in telling stories and through writing. Having a career in film and media has been an interest of mine for a while but it didn’t quite seem possible at times.

I moved to Winnipeg in 2009 and later started a career in the hairstyling industry. I have been part of that industry for 10 years now and have had opportunities to work on set for a couple of small film and documentary projects doing hair as well as interviewing bands at a music festival.

After the pandemic hit, and on top of a series of closures, I was also struck with a head injury that prompted a career change. The experience of working with all sorts of people throughout my career has really inspired me to want to share some of my own stories and help people tell their stories.

It feels as though the stars aligned when I heard about this program and the timing of everything working out so well – regardless of it being from unfortunate events. Saying goodbye to the salon, and to clients and friends I would no longer see regularly was hard, but a decision I was still excited about; to learn something new and dive into something that has been important to me for a long time.

New experiences are always welcomed, and I enjoy getting out in nature. Hiking, biking, canoeing or travelling to new places, attending live events, meeting and talking with new people are just a few of my favourite things to do. There is so much to learn from different people and experiences, and sharing this with everyone is very valuable.

I am so excited to be a part of the CBC New Indigenous Voices program at the National Screen Institute. I am hoping to gain a broader knowledge of the film and media industry. Writing has been one of my main focuses, including story writing and journalism, as well as directing.

As I make my way through the program it’s opened my eyes to how vast this industry really is and I am very appreciative to have this opportunity. I’ve never been in an online program before, and it’s been a long time since I was a student, but I am ready and totally up for a challenge.


Logan Nadeau

Logan Nadeau

I’m Logan Nadeau and I joined the National Screen Institute because I want to gain the experience necessary to succeed in a career in the entertainment industry.

I know that the CBC New Indigenous Voices program will offer the training I need to act on my creative endeavours. It is for these reasons that I look forward to working with my fellow students to get the most out of this opportunity.

I was born in Thompson, Manitoba and grew up in the city of Winnipeg. Norway House Cree Nation (NHCN) is my band. I spent time in Norway House throughout most of my childhood when me and my mom visited family.

I attribute these experiences in the country to my respect for nature and admiration of a beautiful sunset. That being said, I also enjoy my life in the city and look forward to travelling to and living in other places in Canada and around the world as I pursue my career in entertainment.

Art has always fascinated me. I enjoyed drawing and making little plays for family members to act in when I was a child. As I grew up, I started making short videos because I liked sharing things about my life. In high school, I started to come out of my shell because I wanted to be more outgoing.

In my senior year, I took part in an after-school leadership program hosted by the Manitoba Theatre for Young People. Acting and songwriting were two interests of mine and I wanted to get better at them. Our project was to make a musical theatre production with guidance from people in the industry like Madison Thomas, so I knew I was in for a great experience!

It was fun getting to know students from other schools and I even made a friend. Me and my friend Stephen would go on to perform stand-up comedy and even brainstorm ideas for a short horror film together.

Even throughout university I made sure to hone my craft as a writer and performer. Courses such as theatre helped me determine the kind of degree I wanted to get: political studies. I’m a sociable person who is comfortable with crowds and good at public speaking which is why the material suited me so well.

Since I’m a Status Indian born in Canada I knew that pursuing a post-secondary education was important to me. It was crucial that I learn about the history Canada has had with Indigenous people because I had not properly informed myself up until that point.

As a Cree person (identifying as he/him) I have just started to feel more connected to the situation Indigenous peoples in places like New Zealand and Australia find themselves in when dealing with the state government.

I applied for the CBC New Indigenous Voices program because I want to tell the stories that are becoming more important every day as people begin to take notice of the historical injustices perpetrated under colonial rule. For the past year and a half I wanted to focus on finishing my degree as well as fulfilling my position as a student research assistant for one of my professors.

It was at the Mamawipawin Research Space at the University of Manitoba where I was able to delve into the social impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous communities in Manitoba. Now that I have graduated I want to stay true to my goal of having a career in entertainment. I’m doing so by participating in class and taking initiative when it comes to completing projects by getting started right away instead of procrastinating. I want to become a more creative person.

I consider myself lucky to have parents that continue to stand by me as I make my way throughout life. I do not plan to take their support for granted. This is why I am determined to do my best so that I may find success in whichever field in entertainment I pursue.

As I enter this next chapter of my life, I want to take all the ideas that I’ve had when it comes to things like art, music and film, and make it a reality. I think the CBC New Indigenous Voices curriculum can help me become a more creative person by providing me with a foundation to pursue projects that represent what I’m passionate about.

I want to be an effective performer on-screen as well as a competent member behind-the-scenes. One thing I have learned from my experience of producing short videos and being part of my high school’s radio station is that these are projects with many moving parts. Everyone has a part to play in the production of a piece of media.

For now, I want to spend time becoming more knowledgeable in certain areas of filmmaking such as operating equipment and managing the day-to-day tasks while on set. Acting is still important to me. Eventually, however, I want to be involved in film, television and broadcast media as a director/producer. I intend to be the best representative I can for programs like this so that they may continue to support others in their professional development.

I don’t think it’s an understatement to comment on how a lot of people thought 2020 would be just another year to try to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions or pursue opportunities that felt even more plausible because nothing seemed to be going wrong. Of course, this was not the case. Life as we knew it screeched to a halt and the more social elements of our lives were turned upside down.

As a university student who experienced the sudden shift to online learning, I can say that it was scary at first. It was difficult to adapt to things but students and educators alike persevered.

As I look back on the past year and a half I must comment on the will of the people in their commitment to not let this pandemic get the best of them. Coronavirus is a real threat but people from around the world have made it their mission to overcome these new challenges so that a time may come when it is safe to meet each other again in person.

Even though we cannot interact face-to-face in a classroom during [training] I do think the teachings are valuable and carry the same significance regardless. We have excelled before and will do so again as future alumni of the National Screen Institute.


Ariyah Pierre

Ariyah Pierre

Aniin, Ariyah Pierre nindizhnikaaz! I am a Filipino-Ojibwe woman. I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba but recognize my privilege of growing up as an off-reserve member of my home community Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation.

I am pursuing a career in writing, directing and producing for film and TV and take every opportunity I can to expand my knowledge in this beautiful field of audio-visual storytelling.

I am entering my final year at the University of Winnipeg for a bachelor of arts degree in film studies, where I am one of the very few current Indigenous and Filipino representatives, with a minor in Indigenous studies.

My passion for film developed in high school where I found a love for photography and live music. I started to create short films and used my creative eye to explore cinematography and set design for film and TV.

My high school experience was also centered around broadcasting elements which enabled me to become familiar with the technical aspects of film. I decided then that I could make my passion into a career, and created an online account to showcase my creative digital media work: Fotos By Ri. I received various interested clients of my work which kept me busy outside of my university [studies]. But recently I decided to hit pause on my freelance business to focus on what exactly I want my work to represent, in regards to my identity.

I grew up with parents who immersed me as much as they could in my FIlipino and Ojibwe heritage, though growing up within the pressures of Westernized education systems, I started to neglect that part of my identity. Seeking this reconnection to my heritage, as a young woman of Canada, shifted my creative work and allowed me to use my voice creatively and freely for my people.

I found that I want my work to represent the beauty and oppressions of my cultures, and use my art to empower Indigenous youth to move forward from the obstacles of intergenerational trauma and colonialism.

I am also an advocate for motivating strong women and girls, and I hope my work gives them the platform to use their voice to fight against the injustices of our people. Another part of my identity has always been a love for pop culture and live music which I will continue to explore through sound production and different eras of street culture.

I applied to the CBC New Indigenous Voices program to explore my identity in relation to Indigenous storytelling, and to learn how to properly execute a grassroots narrative with respect and gratitude for the natural world and others’ stories.

I am absolutely honoured to be learning in a class of amazing creative Indigenous individuals who I will cherish relationships with for a lifetime. I also want to recognize the administrators of the program who give all of us students access to connect with industry professionals and outstanding Indigenous creators. The amount of knowledge and experience we will be exposed to gives me a greater sense of gratitude towards my peers and mentors.

From this program, I hope to gain a greater sense of knowledge of my culture, in regards to storytelling techniques. I also want to create a name for myself in the industry by connecting with other Indigenous storytellers and collaborating together to create beautiful pieces of work for the world to indulge in and appreciate.

I know that in a few years I will be able to write, produce and direct my own works as well as learn new production positions that will enhance my experiences as a team member in the film and TV industry.

Miigwetch.


Holly Smith

Holly Smith

She:kon my name is Holly Smith and I am Haudenosaunee, Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk Nation) from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory currently living in Toronto, Ontario.

After nearly 10 years working as a frontline occupational therapist in mental health, I have shifted my focus to the film and TV industry. During my experiences working in healthcare, I discovered my love and passion for creative expression through writing and acting which inspired me to pursue a second career in film.

It is my vision to tell stories with my community, to spark conversation and to teach Indigenous youth how to use film and acting as a form of healing. I am also passionate about sharing stories which are inclusive of queer representation and perspectives as these were stories that I needed to see and hear as a young person.

I applied to the CBC New Indigenous Voices program in a pure leap of faith. Over the course of the pandemic I have learned the importance of living my life as fully and as authentically as possible which is why I decided to pursue this change. The CBC New Indigenous Voices program was everything I was looking for in order to get started and I am so grateful to have been selected alongside the other eight participants. It has been the best decision I could have made and I am absorbing every piece of information that has been offered.

Through this program, I hope to gain first-hand guidance, advice and mentorship from industry leaders. I am also excited to build relationships with other aspiring Indigenous filmmakers, artists and creatives as we journey together. I look forward to gaining practical and hands-on experiences through the internship as well as writing, producing and editing my first-ever podcast episode.

My goals for the future include acting, scriptwriting, directing and producing films which explore the history of my family, my community and our collective experiences with colonization and assimilation.

I am interested in documentary film as well as the genres of comedy and horror. At this stage, I am keen to learn about all aspects of the film industry including cinematography, sound mixing and editing in post-production. I look forward to seeing where this journey leads and am enjoying the experience every step of the way.


John Wapioke

John Wapioke

I am originally from Iskatewizaagegan #39 but I am now based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I have a diverse background; I have formally studied audio engineering and business and informally I have studied web/graphic design and video production.

I applied to the CBC New Indigenous Voices program to further explore my passion for filmmaking. What I expect to get out of the program is a general exposure to the film and television industry. The career I want in the industry is to be a working cinematographer.

When I applied, I was a bit skeptical about the program. The reason for my skepticism was due to the fact that online delivery is very tough to pull off and it is even harder to pull off for creative arts where social interaction is key. Fortunately, after the first week, I am no longer a skeptic.

• • •

CBC New Indigenous Voices 2021 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; Provincial Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Industry Supporters IATSE Local 856, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Film Training Manitoba; 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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