Jesse Wente named Chair of the Board of the Canada Council for the Arts

July 28, 2020

Ottawa, July 28, 2020 - The Canada Council for the Arts welcomes the appointment of Jesse Wente as the new Chair of its Board for a 5-year term, effective July 28, 2020. Wente was appointed following the Governor in Council application and selection process which is open, transparent and merit-based to ensure the integrity of its public institutions. Jesse Wente succeeds Pierre Lassonde, who had held the position for the last five years.

The appointment of Jesse Wente as Chair of our Board is an event of historic significance for the Council and for Canada. Jesse is a long-time advocate for First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights. His in-depth knowledge of film, media and popular culture and his critical discourse highlighting the role of under-represented voices in arts and culture have already made an invaluable contribution to the governance of the Canada Council. 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.

Pierre Lassonde’s tenure has enabled the Council to make significant progress. The implementation of the new funding model, the development of reliable methods to measure our results, the doubling of our budget, the increased international visibility of Canadian arts and artists, and our investment in digital infrastructure, which has proven to be a strategic asset for the Council since the beginning of the COVID crisis, have required constant and optimal collaboration between the Board chaired by Pierre Lassonde and the team I lead. Thank you for everything, Pierre!

Simon Brault, Canada Council Director and CEO

Quick Facts

  • Jesse Wente is the first Executive Director of the Indigenous Screen Office, which was founded in 2017.
  • He was first appointed as member of the Canada Council for the Arts Board for a four-year term in April 2017.
  • Jesse Wente is an Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster, producer and speaker. Born and raised in Toronto, his family hails from Chicago and the Serpent River First Nation.
  • Jesse Wente is well known for his 24 years as a columnist for CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, and his 11 years with the Toronto International Film Festival, the last seven as the director of film programmes at the TIFF Lightbox.
  • An outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and First Nations, Metis and Inuit art, he has spoken at the International Forum of Indigenous Peoples, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Canadian Arts Summit and numerous universities and colleges.
  • In 2017 he was named the inaugural recipient of the Reelworld Film Festival’s Reel Activist Award and recently received the Association of Ontario Health Centres’ Media Award for 2018.
Board Member - Jesse Wente
Jesse Wente, Chair Photographer(s): Ian Thorpe


About the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts contributes to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene that reaches across Canada and around the world. The Council is Canada’s public arts funder. The Council’s grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments support Canadian artists, authors, and arts groups and organizations.
This support allows them to pursue artistic expression, create works of art, and promote and disseminate the arts. Through its arts funding, communications, research, and promotion activities, the Council fosters ever-growing engagement of Canadians and international audiences in the arts.

Media Contact

Tara Lapointe

Director, Communications and Prizes

Canada Council for the Arts

150 Elgin St. P.O. Box 1047

Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5V8