On November 20, 2014, the Wapikoni Board of Directors appointed a new Chair. Melissa Mollen Dupuis succeeds Eva Ottawa, Grand Chief of the Atikamekw nation from 2006 to 2013.
Melissa Mollen Dupuis is originally from Mingan, on the North Shore. With an Innu mother and a Quebecois father, she talks about the mixing of cultures through visual arts, animation, performance and story-telling. Her contemporary approach to First Nations culture explores avenues rarely followed until now. She has created, for example, a show of erotic First Nations stories! This artistic commitment has led her to found Quebec Native Artists, a group that allows First Nations artists to establish their priorities.
Founding this group no doubt allowed Melissa to discover an until-then latent activist side, because lately she has become known to the public for more than her artistic side. Since December 2012, with Widia Larivière, she is known as the co-founder of Idle No More in Quebec, a protest and resistance movement to prevent the passing of laws which would lead to the violation of ancestral treaty rights.
Melissa’s activism and personality have brought her a spotlight in the media and make her one of the most promising young First Nations leaders in Quebec. In January 2014, she was one of the six young First Nations leaders of Canada chosen by the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a program of the US State Department putting current and emerging young leaders from abroad in contact with their US counterparts. Thanks to these days of exchange aimed at strengthening mutual understanding on issues of foreign policy, Melissa was able to represent Wapikoni, establish relationships, and exchange with Native Americans and Native organizations in the United States, both urban and on-reserve.
Wapikoni is therefore very proud of its new chair who, furthermore, knows the organization very well, having worked with us in 2012 as film distribution assistant, and also from having participated in 2012 and 2013 during urban Wapikoni Mobile workshops in Montreal. She directed three shorts: “Missing and Murdered Native Women,” “O” and “Nanapush and the Turtle.”
For her mandate as Board of Directors Chair, Melissa Mollen Dupuis will have in her entourage Kevin Papatie, Vice-President, Manon Barbeau, Vice-President, Clément St-Cyr, Secretary-Treasurer, and André Dudemaine, Director.