WAPIKONI ANNOUNCES THE DEPARTURE OF ITS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ODILE JOANNETTE
Montreal, April 19th, 2021. - Wapikoni announces the departure of its Executive Director Odile Joannette. From the very start of her tenure at Wapikoni in April 2018, Odile Joannette built on her values and successfully mobilized her team to advance the organization’s mission and further develop its range of services.
Odile Joannette is an Indigenous activist and member of the Pessamit Innu community. Known as a unifier, she builds bridges between Peoples, Nations and generations. The way she illustrates Indigenous values, issues and reality with remarkable ease meaningfully raises awareness, mobilizes, and inspires to work towards change and decolonization. Odile Joannette studied communications and public relations and later got involved with Quebec Native Women in 2002 and took part in the opening of the first Indigenous childcare centre in Montreal. She co-founded the Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK as well as DestiNATIONS: Carrefour international des arts et des cultures autochtones. Odile Joannette spent close to 10 years working in employment and training services for the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador.
Wapikoni marked its 15th anniversary in 2019. When its co-founder Manon Barbeau left her position as Executive Director, a passionate, resilient and committed Odile Joannette took up the torch.
Of her many accomplishments, the circular design of the organization’s strategic orientations, inspired by the medicine wheel, will be fondly remembered. Its values resonated strongly with the engaged and passionate team. She also forged many organizational friendships with the artistic, cultural, and Indigenous communities as well as the private sector. In 2019, the organization has celebrated 15 years of existence and a multi-year partnership with Netflix, who supports Wapikoni’s development and mentoring activities. Odile Joannette also actively contributed to Wapikoni’s current organizational structure, which strengthens its foundation through various internal policies and the implementation of new human resources, internal communications and monitoring guidelines and processes.
In 2020, Wapikoni launched its Virtual creation studio—a fifth cohort is currently taking part in it—and was able to keep in touch with the communities despite the pandemic. In partnership with the NETWORK group, Wapikoni also welcomed the Montreal homeless community to use one of its caravans for warmth and social interactions during this difficult time. A partnership was established with the Kiuna Institute for the creation of Quebec’s first Indigenous cinema program of study to support the next generation of Indigenous filmmakers. Raising awareness of Indigenous issues and reality and creating sharing and awareness spaces to promote healing and reconciliation are some of the organization’s priorities. It was therefore natural for Wapikoni to engage actively in the Centre national pour la vérité et la réconciliation’s structuring initiatives and unite to support the Every Child Matters movement. In line with its humane, collective, supportive, and progressive vision, Wapikoni also created a pedagogical guide in partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and organized the first International Symposium on Indigenous Languages.
The many partnerships that were established over the past few years were shaped by Odile Joannette’s passion in advocating for and promoting creative spaces that foster Indigenous artists’ visibility and excellence and the collective recognition of the richness and diversity of their journey.
Odile Joannette sees artistic expression as a powerful agent of transformation and is a strong advocate for narrative sovereignty. She inspired Wapikoni’s multi-generational collective to use the organization’s tools and services to broadcast the expertise, know-how and artistic signature of Indigenous people among the public and in the media in Canada and abroad.
During her three-year tenure as Wapikoni’s Executive Director, Odile Joannette demonstrated proficiency, determination, generosity, as well as a host of other personal qualities. She will carry on her mission of promoting Indigenous art and culture at the Canada Council for the Arts, where she will lead the “Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples” initiative.
The members of the Board of Directors, the whole team and the “Wapi-family” wish to highlight Odile Joannette’s vast contribution to the organization and to wish her the best of luck in her next role. She will continue to serve the power of Indigenous Art. The whole team will carry on Wapikoni’s mission with the vision and knowledge that she passed on to them.
You can view Wapikoni’s opening for the Executive Director position here.
Wapikoni is an Indigenous organization that fosters artistic creation and excellence to serve the narrative sovereignty of Nations. Our mission is to promote the expression of Indigenous creative talents through short films, music and XR projects, to promote their works across Canada and the world, to offer our collective of artists a space for personal, artistic and professional development where they can meet, be inspired, identify and prize accomplishments while also promoting the creation of bridges and spaces that contribute to social and societal transformations.
Hélène Gagnon, Communications manager