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, for a five-year term.
Wente, an Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster and speaker, has held high-profile roles in Canada’s arts communities, including executive director of the industry-led Indigenous Screen Office.
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says Wente is the first Indigenous chairperson of an organization within his federal portfolio.
It is with pride that I announce the appointment of @jessewente as President of the @CanadaCouncil ! A strong advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples. With his vast experience and passion for the arts, Jesse will – I am sure – carry out his mission brilliantly ! https://t.co/M6X3w7wouH
The Canada Council for the Arts distributes millions in federal arts funding annually and oversees some of Canada’s most prestigious arts awards.
Wente takes over as chairperson a time of great flux for artists in Canada, as they struggle to find new ways to present their works, and earn a living, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simon Brault, director and chief executive officer for the council, called the appointment a bold decision and fantastic news for the council.
For 24 years, Wente was a columnist on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning and is a current contributor to other CBC programs and platforms.