Weengushk students connect with media organizations

TORONTO—Weengushk Film Institute’s Toronto student tour was an overwhelming success. The November 16-20 tour kicked off with a Buffy Sainte Marie concert at the Royal Conservatory. The entertaining and inspiring concert ended with Buffy Sainte-Marie spending time encouraging the students to use their training to tell their own stories in their own voices. Other highlights included visits to Cinespace and Pinewood Toronto Studio where the students had an opportunity to see the sets for The Expanse and the Discovery set for a Star Trek series, a Badgers basketball game, ending with a tour of the Scotia Bank Arena followed by Maple Leaf game that was watched from a private box where the Leafs took the victory.

On Monday, November 19, Hot Docs and TIFF at the Bell Lightbox hosted the participants. The day-long event included screenings of short films, pitches that were evaluated by executives from CBC, Corus, Bell Media, Ouat Media, DOC and the NFB followed a delicious networking lunch with TV industry executives at Milagro Cantina. The nervous students pitched TV concepts that were described as “fresh and innovative” by one broadcast executive.

Emily Savage, the youngest participant, in Grade 12, part of a co-op program offered by the Ontario Ministry of Education commented, “This was an amazing experience. I not only had fun but I also learned a lot and met some great people who can help me advance my career in film and television.”

Gage Arcand of Alexander First Nation in Alberta commented, “After this trip, I find myself to be very inspired. I have through WFI’s Lab 1 Film Program learned that I have a knack for filmmaking. In addition to my music, I want to share and spread the messages and stories, that far too many do not hear, with a fresh perspective.”

Zoe Manitowabi from Wiikwemkoong said, “I learned that I am not alone and that I’m not the only who is afraid.”

Three of the students were also interviewed on City TV’s Breakfast Television.

The tour was designed to introduce WFI’s students to some of the major players in the world of TV and film in Toronto providing them an opportunity to learn more about various career paths in the industry. WFI’s founder Dr. Shirley Cheechoo stated, “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the all the people who warmly welcomed our group and freely shared information and their experiences. I am so very grateful and glad that the participants were introduced to the industry in Toronto.”

Weengushk Film Institute thanks all sponsors of the tour, including the following: Sprott Foundation, Hot Docs, TIFF, Director’s Guild of Canada, Brock University, Pinewood Toronto Studios and Cinespace Film Studios.

Weengushk Film Institute (WFI) is a non-profit, charitable organization, an artist-focused film and television-training centre dedicated to unlocking the creative confidence in marginalized youth.

Weengushk Film Institute (WFI) is partnered with Brock University where Dr. Shirley Cheechoo, WFI’s founder and current executive/artistic director, is serving her second term as chancellor. She is the first woman and first aboriginal person to hold this position.