TIFF is pleased to recognize the newly formed Indigenous Advisory Group. This group, composed of some of Canada’s most recognized and respected Indigenous voices, will play an integral role in how TIFF programs for, with, and about Indigenous communities.
Filmmakers Adam Piron, Danis Goulet and Tracey Deer, producer and programmer Jason Ryle, executive Melanie Nepinak Hadley, imagineNATIVE Executive Director Naomi Johnson, and elected Chief of the Mississaugaus of the Credit First Nation Gimaa (Chief) R. Stacey Laforme make up this advisory group, and will bring invaluable expertise and experience in guiding TIFF’s actions affecting Indigenous peoples. Meeting periodically throughout the year, the Indigenous Advisory Group will inform how TIFF answers questions like:
Tracey Deer is a Mohawk writer, director, and showrunner whose two decades of experience spans documentary, television, and film. Beans, her debut feature, premiered at TIFF 2020 to critical acclaim, garnering her the prestigious TIFF Emerging Talent Award and two Canadian Screen Awards — including Best Picture. She was also named one of Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch. In television, she helmed the hit dramedy Mohawk Girls as co-creator, co-showrunner, and director. That success propelled her to co–executive producer on the third season of the Netflix/CBC series Anne with an E, working alongside Emmy winner Moira Walley-Beckett. She proudly serves as First Vice President of the Directors Guild of Canada and is on the board of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
Danis Goulet is an award-winning writer and director. Her films have screened at festivals around the world, including Sundance, Berlinale, MoMA, and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). She is a former programmer for TIFF and a former director of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. She is an alumna of the National Screen Institute and TIFF Filmmaker lab, and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her debut feature, Night Raiders, was selected for the Panaroma section of the 2021 Berlinale and will have its North American premiere at TIFF in September 2021. She recently completed production on Ivy, a thriller for Netflix. Goulet is Cree/Metis, originally from northern Saskatchewan in Canada.
Naomi Johnson, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Bear clan from Six Nations, has worked in the arts for 15 years as a curator/programmer and arts administrator. In June 2020, she assumed the role of Executive Director for imagineNATIVE and serves as the administrative lead of the organization, whose mission is to showcase, promote, and celebrate Indigenous filmmakers and media artists — with an ongoing commitment to generate a greater understanding by audiences of Indigenous peoples, cultures, and artistic expressions.
Gimaa (Chief) R. Stacey Laforme is the elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN). Born and raised on MCFN, Chief Laforme has served his community for over 20 years, being first elected to council in 1999. Chief Laforme is committed to increasing involvement and communication between Elected Council and both on- and off-reserve membership. He is very active throughout MCFN’s traditional territory, which encompasses 3.9 million acres of Southern Ontario — not only as a Chief, but as a notable storyteller and poet. Chief Laforme has recently been appointed as Honorary Senior Fellow for Massey College, joining the Duke of Edinburgh and the Chancellor of Oxford as only the third person awarded the highest honour the college can bestow. Gimaa (Chief) R. Stacey Laforme exemplifies significant and continuous service to our community by demonstrating integrity, generosity of spirit, humility, courage, collaboration, “The Good Mind,” and traditional ways of knowing and being.
Melanie Nepinak Hadley is an Ojibway woman from Winnipeg now based in Toronto. She is currently the Program Director for WarnerMedia’s Canadian above-the-line talent initiatives. Prior to this role, she was a network executive at CBC, where she managed projects in development and production. Outside of WarnerMedia, she contributes to the industry by sitting on the board of directors for imagineNATIVE, the NSI, and COUSIN Collective. She is also on the Content Advisory Board for the Banff World Media Festival. In all avenues, she aims to connect talent to opportunity to show the world the rich tapestry of the Canadian storytelling community.
Adam Piron is a filmmaker and curator based in Southern California. He’s a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, a Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk) descendant of the Turtle Clan, and was raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He currently works as the Associate Director of Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program and is also a co-founder of COUSIN, a collective supporting Indigenous artists expanding the form of film. He also acts as a member of the Short Film Programming Team for the Sundance Film Festival and has previously programmed for AFI DOCS, AFI FEST, the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, and the LA Film Festival. He was previously the Film Curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from 2018 to 2020. His films have played in The New Yorker’s documentary series, True/False Film Fest, AFI DOCS, the San Francisco International Film Festival, MoMA’s Doc Fortnight, the Camden International Film Festival, the Indie Grits Film Festival, and various other festivals.
Kerry Swanson is the Chief Executive Officer of the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO), an independent funding organization serving First Nations, Inuit and Métis screen-based creators across Canada. Kerry has led the organization’s rapid growth and initiated multiple public and private partnerships including with Netflix, Sundance, Amazon Studios, MIT, Canada Media Fund, Telefilm and the Government of Canada. Kerry is also co-founder and strategic advisor for Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival, a celebrated multi-platform biennial event in Toronto. She has served as both Board Chair and Executive Director of the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content, and has worked in leadership roles at provincial and municipal funding agencies. Kerry was born and raised in Chapleau, northern Ontario, in a Cree/Ojibwe, Irish and French family. She is a member of Michipicoten First Nation with familial ties to Chapleau Cree First Nation.