Minister Guilbeault Announces Appointment to the Canada Council for the Arts

News release

Our heritag, our culture

GATINEAU, July 28, 2020

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announces the appointment of Jesse Wente as Chairperson of the Canada Council for the Arts for a five-year term, effective today, July 28.

Born and raised in Toronto, Jesse Wente is an Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster, speaker and arts leader. He is a member of the Serpent River First Nation and an outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and First Nations, Métis and Inuit art. He is best known for his 24 years as a columnist for CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. He spent 11 years with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the last seven years as the director of film programmes at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. In 2017, he was named the inaugural recipient of the Reelworld Film Festival’s Reel Activist Award. He was named the first Executive Director of the Indigenous Screen Office in February 2018, and received the Association of Ontario Health Centres Media Award for 2018. He has served on the boards of directors of the Toronto Arts Council, the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival and the Native Earth Performing Arts, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s national public arts funder. The Council promotes and invests in artistic excellence through a broad range of grants and services to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations involved in dance, integrated arts, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts, writing and publishing. It also promotes public awareness of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities.


“Art and culture play a vital role in our sense of togetherness. They create opportunities to unite with each other, boost our creativity and imagination, and increase overall well-being for both individuals and communities. I am very pleased to be able to rely on the continuous support of Jesse, now as Chairperson— the first Indigenous Chairperson within the Canadian Heritage portfolio. The Canada Council for the Arts will be able to continue to benefit from his extensive knowledge, experience and passion for the arts. I also want to take this opportunity to thank outgoing Chairperson Pierre Lassonde for his remarkable contribution to the Council over the last years.”

—The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Quick facts

  • Budget 2016 announced the doubling of the Canada Council for the Arts’ budget over a period of five years. The Canada Council has committed to ensuring that 25 percent of these new funds will go to first-time recipients by 2021.

  • In 2016, the Government of Canada adopted a new approach to Governor in Council appointments. This approach respects the principle of diversity and is based on an open, transparent and merit-based selection process. It results in the recommendation of competent candidates who reflect Canadian diversity.

  • As they become available, all appointment opportunities within the 16 organizations in the Canadian Heritage Portfolio are posted on the Governor in Council appointments website. Those interested can apply online.

Associated links


For more information (media only), please contact:

Camille Gagné-Raynauld
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage

Tara Lapointe
Director, Communications and Prizes
Canada Council for the Arts
613-566-4414, ext. 5151

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