Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
National Film Board of Canada (NFB) Chairperson Claude Joli-Coeur announced today that J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth (One who gives away and still stands tall) has been appointed as Director, Indigenous Relations and Community Engagement—a newly created NFB position based in Toronto, effective September 20, 2021.
In collaboration with the NFB Indigenous Advisory Committee, J’net will provide leadership and cultural awareness within the NFB to implement organizational change and transformation at all levels of the institution, guiding the NFB and its partners in Indigenous matters. This includes organizing and directing activities related to the NFB’s Indigenous Action Plan, supporting the NFB’s Indigenous activities, collaborating with senior management to identify and remove barriers to employment and career progression for Indigenous people, ensuring that Indigenous employees’ and artists’ cultural and spiritual needs are understood and met, and providing leadership and cultural awareness to non-Indigenous staff and artists.
Along with the NFB’s soon-to-be-named Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, J’net will be part of the NFB’s Executive Committee and report directly to the Commissioner.
This nomination fulfills one of the NFB’s key commitments on diversity, equity and inclusion, and reflects the NFB’s dedication to lasting change and ensuring that it is an egalitarian, open and diverse organization.
About J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth
J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth (One who gives away and still stands tall) is a member of the Ahousaht community within the Nuu-chah-nulth homelands on Vancouver Island. J’net now raises her family as a solo-two-spirit parent in the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Wendat (what is now known as Toronto, Ontario).
An award-winning arts leader and digital educator committed to raising the positive profile of Indigenous Peoples, J’net previously served as the Indigenous Outreach and Learning Coordinator with the Royal Ontario Museum Learning Department (2014–2021). Prior to that, she was Developer & Manager for Centennial College’s Indigenous Curriculum (2011–2013) and Partnership Facilitator (2010–2011) for the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts.
Her honours include a 2020 John Hobday Award in Arts Management from the Canada Council for the Arts as well as the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Woman’s Achievement in Community Leadership Award in 2019.
“For an outspoken Indigenous arts leader like myself, this opportunity represents a turning of the page in authentic Indigenous storytelling in Canadian filmmaking. We are overdue to have these difficult conversations. By introducing this senior-level position, it signals that the NFB is ready and willing to do the work of remembering and acknowledging ongoing Indigenous excellence and innovation. I am honoured to be taking up this important role,” said J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth.
“As Director, Indigenous Relations and Community Engagement, J’net will help us to transform our organization to respond to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the concerns of Indigenous creators. She is a champion for systemic change who is committed to building bridges and fostering dialogue, and I’m excited to begin working with her to help us better meet the needs of Indigenous Peoples and the country,” said Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson.
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