TELUS STORYHIVE in association with NSI

Elise Swerhone, Program Manager


As manager of programs and development, Elise is co-manager of the NSI IndigiDocs course. Her extensive work includes the feature documentaries TuTu Much and Ballet High as well as several documentaries for CBC’s The Nature of Things.

She has made over 30 documentaries which have been shown around the world, including work for the NFB, Global TV, HGTV, Vision, National Geographic and Discovery US.

Her dramatic work includes Miss ManitobaNow & ThenThe Mayor of Odessa, episodes of Adventures of Shirley Holmes and the MOW My Mother’s Ghost. Elise is also an alumna of NSI DramaLab.

Ursula Lawson, Program Manager

Ursula Lawson

Ursula has been with NSI since 2004 and is a manager of programs and development. She is currently working on virtual training initiatives including NSI Business for ProducersNSI New Northern Voices and the NSI/FTM Manitoba Content Creators Development Accelerator. She also oversees the mentorship, development and delivery of projects for TELUS STORYHIVE.

In 2013 Ursula was honoured to receive the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Circle of Inspiration Award along with colleagues Lisa Meeches and Melissa Kajpust for their contribution to CBC New Indigenous Voices. In 2019, Ursula was nominated for the Winnipeg Arts Council Making a Difference award which celebrates contributions to the growth and development of the arts in Winnipeg.

Instrumental in helping NSI develop and deliver culturally sensitive film and television training to emerging Indigenous content creators, Ursula previously managed CBC New Indigenous Voices, NSI IndigiDocs and NSI Aboriginal Journalism. She also coordinated NSI Global MarketingNSI Totally Television, NSI Aboriginal Cultural Trade Initiative and NSI Pitch to Win! Ursula is also secretary of the NSI Board of Directors.

Prior to working at NSI, Ursula held management positions in both the hospitality and healthcare industries.

Kaya Wheeler, Program Manager


As manager of programs and development, Kaya works across many of NSI’s courses and helps run the day-to-day activities of CBC New Indigenous Voices and NSI IndigiDocs.

Kaya graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a bachelor of arts in Indigenous Studies, and has been working within the Indigenous community in Winnipeg for more than 10 years. She has spent a large portion of this time working with Indigenous youth in many areas, including acting and storytelling for theatre. She has had experience both volunteering and working on film sets, and even had a small stint on the stage and in front of the camera.

Kaya is excited to be in a role that helps hone and amplify new and existing voices in the industry.

Associate faculty


Riley Beach
Maureen Bradley
Matthew Clarke
Chris Craddock
Robert Cuffley
Kevin Eastwood
Dean English
Mark Farrell
Mike Fly
James Genn
Barbara Hager
Stephen Hegyes
Wendy Hyman
Nicholas Humphries
Dennis Jackson
Ava Karvonen
Karen Lam
Sharon McGowan
Leah Mallen
Gary Marcuse
Joe Novak
Rudy Thauberger
Peggy Thompson
Kim Todd
Andrew Williamson