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Arts leader Jesse Wente named head of Canada Council for the Arts

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.

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. 

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