EXCLUSIVE: WIFT names first participants for Indigenous writers program

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Sponsored by Hollywood Suite and the Foundation for WIFT Toronto, selected participants will take part in a four-day training and networking intensive between Sept. 23 and Oct. 8.

Women in Film and TV Toronto and Hollywood Suite have named the first cohort for the newly launched WIFT Indigenous Writers Program.

Created earlier this summer, the four-day intensive is targeted to First Nations, Inuit or Métis writers at the mid-career level to deliver support for script, story and pitch development, mentorship and networking opportunities and other community support. This year’s program will be delivered virtually.

Seven writers were selected for the program’s first year, including Night Raiders associate producer Eva Thomas, Cashing In writer Elizabeth Denny and radio producer Eva Grant.

Thomas, of the Walpole Island First Nation, has taken part in a number of recent program, including the 2020 cohort of the Netflix-Banff Diversity of Voices initiative and Women in View’s Five in Focus: Indigenous participants. She has also served as a mentor in the imagineNATIVE Screenwriting Intensive and Women in Film and Television Vancouver’s Tricksters and Writers program.

Denny is Métis and a TV and children’s book writer based in Winnipeg, whose credits include Tipi Tales and Wapos Bay for APTN.

Eva Grant, a member of the St’át’imc First Nation and based on the unceded territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ and Lək̓ Wəŋən peoples, has previously taken part in the Sundance Institute’s feature development program. Grant is currently associate producer on CBC Radio’s adaptation of the graphic novel This Place, hosted by Rosanna Deerchild.

Rounding out the participants of the inaugural program are Jo Proulx, a journalist and technical writer who is a coordinator on an Abenaki language revitalization project; Promise Holmes Skinner, a criminal defence lawyer who is also an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto; Wanda John, a Cree poet from Coquitlam, B.C. with two published books of poetry through Talonbooks and a graphic novel set to debut in late 2022; and Devin Ewards, a mixed-race First Nations writer who served as director of operations at tech start-up and software development company Alo Solutions.

The intensive will run for four days between Sept. 23 and Oct. 8. Information on mentors and guest speakers is currently unavailable. It is sponsored by Hollywood Suite and the Foundation for WIFT Toronto.

Pictured (L-R): Wanda John, Jo Proulx, Elizabeth Denny (top), Eva Thomas, Devin Edwards and Promise Holmes Skinner (bottom). Eva Grant not pictured.