He emerged from hustling VHS rentals at Video Gallery in Slave Lake, Treaty 8 Territory, to nabbing a theatre scholarship for college, where he subsequently dropped out and hopped the Greyhound to Vancouver Coast Salish Territory to work in film and television.
After short stints in TV, independent film, radio, KFC, telemarketing and street theatre, he snuck into Capilano University where he paid his dues by selling film school students short film scripts for their assignments, then graduated from the Indigenous digital filmmaking program with honours.
Jay concurrently worked as a private video statement gatherer with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for several years where he was honoured with the name “Smeent” meaning “mountain man” in the Kwakwaka’wakw language. Ohkoma, his grandmother Florence Cardinal was a residential school survivor who spoke fluent Cree. His grandfather, Lawrence Villeneuve, was a trapper who spoke Cree and Michif.
Jay’s YouTube short films have gone the opposite of viral, but some have actually played in film festivals. As an actor, you can see him in some cool movies like Beans and Brother I Cry (where he was robbed of a supporting actor Leo Award), and even a TV show here and there, like Get Shorty.
As a filmmaker he managed to snag some hardware for his films like the critically acclaimed Holy Angels and Is That One of Your Jokes; which is not a question, or a joke, but the title of the film. He also received an honourable mention from the MPPIA Short Film Award at the 2018 Whistler Film Festival for the live pitch of his Louis Riel short script Gods & Devils, which is his next project to be shot on 35 mm film and in Michif.
Jay is basically what would happen if Tom Jackson and Tantoo Cardinal had an illegitimate love child that was raised in a small town surrounded by dense forest; and people LOL! He also has three rad kids, who are not illegitimate, and often star in his cardinal cinéma c[art]el indie films.
“Live to dream, dare to live; live your dreams if you dare!”