Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Jesse Wente is seen in Toronto, on Dec. 10, 2018.

The Canadian Press

Jesse Wente, a prominent advocate for an increased presence of Indigenous voices in Canada’s cultural landscape, has been appointed chairperson of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Mr. Wente, an Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster and speaker, takes the role after years of involvement with the council, and at a tumultuous time for artists grappling with the fallout from efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Wente said he was thrilled and honoured by the appointment.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s a very big obligation both for Canada, the broad Canadian public, but also I’m a First Nations guy and whenever we take on these leadership positions, there is an obligation back to the community,” he said.

The issues thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic go beyond the demise of festivals large and small, the end of major concert hall performances or galleries devoid of visitors.

As bookstores reopen, for example, publishers are bracing for the return of thousands of unsold copies, creating additional financial pressures for an industry that already saw sales plummet during the spring.

While the federal government has provided $500-million in emergency support funding for cultural, heritage and sport organizations, additional requests for funds keep pouring in.

Mr. Wente said he sees the pandemic as providing a pivotal moment, noting that artists always find a way forward.

“In these moments of trauma, as it has been for so many, there is an opportunity to reprioritize, reorient and really understand what is important,” he said.

In announcing Mr. Wente’s appointment Tuesday, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said Mr. Wente is the first Indigenous chairperson of an organization within his federal portfolio.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Wente is a member of the Serpent River First Nation, and his years in the arts sector have included extensive work promoting and developing Indigenous culture, including being hired two years ago as the first executive director of the industry-led Indigenous Screen Office.

The pandemic, and also the continuing national debate around eliminating systemic racism in all facets of Canadian life, open up an opportunity for the council – and Canadians – to reflect, he said.

“It is a moment where a lot of people’s privileges are exemplified and also being stripped away,” he said.

As a self-professed “film nerd,” Mr. Wente said he has spent a career advocating for equity and inclusion for Indigenous voices.

His appointment, Mr. Wente said, is an example of the Canada Council for the Arts doing what other arts organizations must: elevate Indigenous voices.

Arts and culture are meant to help shape national identity and the national discourse, he said, and can play a role in achieving more inclusion and equity throughout the country.

Story continues below advertisement

“All my work comes down to how to achieve those things,” he said.

The Globe has five brand-new arts and lifestyle newsletters: Health & Wellness, Parenting & Relationships, Sightseer, Nestruck on Theatre and What to Watch. Sign up today.

Follow related topics

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies