Jesse Wente has been appointed chairperson of the Canada Council for the Arts, Canada’s national public arts funder.
His appointment as chair is for a five-year term starting today, July 28. Wente first became a member of the Canada Council board in 2017.
In a release issued this morning, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said that the appointment makes Wente “the first Indigenous Chairperson within the Canadian Heritage portfolio.”
Simon Brault, director and CEO of the Canada Council, called Wente’s appointment as chair “an event of historic significance for the Council and for Canada…. At a time when the future of the arts sector is being reimagined, it is a privilege for me and my executive team to benefit from the leadership of the first Indigenous Chair of the Canada Council.”
Wente is an Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster, speaker and arts leader who is also currently executive director of the Indigenous Screen Office. He is a member of the Serpent River First Nation and also spent seven years as the director of film programs at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. In 2017, Wente was named the inaugural recipient of the Reelworld Film Festival’s Reel Activist Award. He has also served on the boards of the Toronto Arts Council, the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival and Native Earth Performing Arts.
Wente succeeds Pierre Lassonde, whose five-year term as chair ran from July 2015 to July 2020.