TORONTO — The Indigenous Screen Office says co-executive director Kerry Swanson is ascending to the role of executive director, and that founding director Jesse Wente will leave at the end of the year.
The board of directors says Wente, who served as co-executive director with Swanson, will continue to work with the organization on future strategic initiatives even after his departure.
Board chair Jean La Rose thanked Wente for his contributions, stating in a release that "the broader Indigenous production community has benefited greatly from the impact of his presence, voice and advocacy."
Wente says it has been a great honour to work for the ISO but the announcement didn't state a reason for his leaving, nor detailed future plans. In the release he says he has "achieved the goals I set out to accomplish when I joined the organization."
Wente started with the ISO in 2018, and together with Swanson, who started the following year, built Canada’s first independent Indigenous-led screen-based funding body, backed by a $40-million three-year allocation from Canadian Heritage.
In the last two years, the ISO says it's delivered more than $20 million in funding to Indigenous storytellers across Canada, and developed partnership programs with organizations including Netflix, the Directors Guild of Canada, Amazon Studios, MIT, Sundance Institute, and the Banff World Media Festival.
Swanson is former executive director and board chair of imagineNATIVE, and previously held leadership roles at Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.
She is a member of Michipicoten First Nation with familial ties to Chapleau Cree First Nation in Ontario.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 7, 2022.
The Canadian Press