Festival Greetings

Grandmother pauline shirt – Knowledge Keeper + Cultural Advisor
Thunder-Woman of the Red tailed Hawk Clan
Plains Cree Nation

It’s a great honor to acknowledge and welcome our relatives from across Mother Earth once again to Toronto, as we come together in the Circle to celebrate our creative minds and vibrate hearts that strengthen our indigenous ways of expression.

As this is the 21st Festival, I reflect on our teachings of the Seven Stages of Life. The cycle that the Festival is in is called the Wandering/Wondering stage. During this cycle, it is a critical time of growth, as a young adult they want to explore and venture out beyond their own community and environment. It is a time where all the lessons, teachings, and the many gifts that were given in the younger stages will be acknowledged and used. There is a confidence in knowing that they have the tools, guidance and wisdom from their family to spread their wings further then they have ever done before.

May your wings spread far and wide, wishing you
many blessings as you carry your Bundle firmly
and with confidence into the future. And have a
wonderful festival!

Hiy Hiy (Thank you)

KONA GOULET – Chair of Board

Tanisi and welcome imagineNATIVE family and friends to our 21st Festival!

This year Covid-19 has posed new challenges for us to find innovative ways to bring Indigenous storytelling to our audiences. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank the incredibly dedicated imagineNATIVE team who have brought so much creativity to envisioning our first online festival and really gone above and beyond to make this year’s virtual festival a success.
This year new leaders Naomi Johnson, Executive Director, and Niki Little, Artistic Director, have been trailblazers envisioning exciting new ways for us to present to and engage with our audiences.
This virtual festival builds on the last 20 years of a strong and growing community of Indigenous cinematic, artistic and inspired creators. We thank each and every one of you. We honour you and we celebrate you. Kinanaskomitin.

We look forward to our connecting to each of you—and our global audience—virtually and around the world.

Happy festival!

NAOMI JOHNSON – Executive Director

Welcome to imagineNATIVE Online Film + Media Arts Festival 2020

To encapsulate what this year has been and to process the shifts we’ve made, along with the impacts felt globally, is an extraordinary task. With the health and well-being of artists and audiences, as well as our team, in mind, we decided in the Spring to present this year’s Festival online. Having this focus challenged us in new ways, and we’ve done our best to take into consideration the presentation of works with artists and audiences as our primary considerations. The goal as always is to bring you Indigenous stories and present them with the thought, care and honour which they deserve. imagineNATIVE is a team comprised of passionate, dedicated and hard-working individuals. I couldn’t be more proud of the work this team has accomplished. I would be remiss to not acknowledging the support of our board, funders, sponsors and partners who have been understanding and sympathetic to the many pivots we’ve made along the way. I am forever grateful for the support of this imagineNATIVE family, both past and current.

Wherever you may be, nia:wen for supporting these artists and their stories,

NIKI LITTLE – Artistic Director

Give with gratitude. bukitinagay (anishininew) | give-away

A give-away is an act of acknowledgement that reveals notions of collective responsibility between spirit, individuals and communities from the spirit and for the spirit.
The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Online Festival 2020 will be guided by this Indigenous practice of gift-giving and reciprocity. With the community as a priority, we will gather over six days, separately but collectively, through online transmissions. We will witness and celebrate a community of Indigenous creators who amplify Indigenous creative expressions through their voices. We thank you for the ways you deepen our understanding, spark our curiosity and intellectual inquiries through artful moving images.
Current realities in the world have provided an opportunity for us to reaffirm our continuums and our activations through the work we do. To the Programming Team and Committee, without your input and thoughtful insight, this wouldn’t have been possible.
Finally, to our community members, partners and allies, miikwehc for supporting imagineNATIVE and upholding Indigenous voices. We affirm and hold space with and for you.


CLAUDIA SKUNK – Lead, Corporate + Donor Initiatives
JESSICA FLEMMING – Foundations + Partnerships Manager

Boon Zhoor/Aniin,

We are excited to welcome you to imagineNATIVE’s Online Give-Away Festival! It has been a pleasure to work with the many partners who have made this year’s unique model a resounding success!

We have been moved by the steadfast support of our long-standing partners and the enthusiasm of several new allies. These individual donors, public funders, foundations, and corporate partners have enabled us to continue our important work, together, even in a challenging time.

Thanks to the generosity of our private and public funders, we are giving back to the community by grounding our work in a model of sharing. For this, our 21st Festival, our partners have positioned us to increase artist fees, cash prizes, and secure gifts from artisans and Indigenous-owned companies across our Nations.

To all imagineNATIVE supporters, we are grateful for your ongoing encouragement. With you, we can continue to celebrate and champion Indigenous storytellers, contributing to a bold, bright, and dynamic artistic landscape.

We also want to further express our gratitude to our Major Partners who have stood by us, our values, and our charitable mandate to support Indigenous media content creators.

We want to acknowledge the steadfast support of our presenting partner Crave, which over the years as Bell Media has enabled us to gather momentum and reach new heights in excellence.

Thank you also to supporters of our special events and galas, TD Bank as our Welcome Gathering presenter, APTN and the Canada Media Fund, our Opening and Closing night partners, respectively. We are also grateful to Slaight Music as the presenter of The Beat and the Bullseye Music Prize. The continued dedication and contribution of these sponsors enables us at imagineNATIVE to generate opportunities for Indigenous artists and present their works with quality and care to the film + media arts sector at large. We offer our heartfelt thanks to you, and look forward to many more years as partners and collaborators in growing and diversifying the Canadian arts ecology.


ADRIANA CHARTRAND – Institute Manager

Hello/Bonjour/Allo Everyone,

Welcome to imagineNATIVE 2020, the first online-only edition of the Festival!

My name’s Adriana Chartrand and I’m the Institute Manager at imagineNATIVE. I’m Michif (or Red River Métis) and Irish/Scottish/Welsh/French. I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and am now based in Toronto, Ontario.
Industry Days 2020 looks and feels undeniably different this year. I will personally miss the beautiful energy of gathering in person with filmmakers and industry delegates from Canada and around the world; it is the highlight of my year, each year.
However, I fully support the decision to pivot to an online Festival (and year-round online Institute labs) for the foreseeable future. This decision, while difficult, was made to prioritize the safety of our audiences, communities and artists in these uncertain times.
We have worked hard to continue Industry Days’ history of presenting meaningful conversations, panels and networking events, focused, as always, on Indigenous creators and industry professionals.
While this digital pivot can allow for greater inclusion and access (eliminating the need to travel to the Festival and attend potentially crowded events) we recognize that not everyone, particularly those living in more remote Indigenous communities, has equitable access to the internet.
We have tried to help combat this by enhancing some Industry Days events with podcasts and radio content and will look to incorporate more of this content into year-round Institute activities.
We are beyond grateful to the artists and industry professionals who have offered their expertise, experience and voices to Industry Days 2020 and to all of our delegates and audience members.
The continued support of all of our partners, communities and artists is so appreciated. I sincerely hope that Industry Days 2020 provides a meaningful (and enjoyable!) experience.

Thank You/Merci/Marci,

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