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Ontario Creates Workforce Symposium

Event Description

A highly-skilled and diverse talent base is key to powering Ontario’s creative economy.

Please join Ontario Creates, key decision-makers and leading experts from across Ontario’s dynamic creative industries to strategize the first steps for a multi-year workforce development strategy, including exploring:

  • Critical skills gaps, talent pipelines and training mechanisms;
  • Building stronger and more resilient companies;
  • The future of work, including labour force intersections with artificial intelligence and climate change;
  • Youth perspectives on creative industry careers.



Our opening session will take a look at a real life example of building talent pipelines on a film set, in a discussion with Isabelle Ruiz (Indigenous Screen Office), as well as several individuals who were trained on the sets of Rosie and Night Raiders, including: Ben Kicknosway, Jerry Wolf, Leigh George and Amanda Roy.


Woman smiling at Camera
Isabelle Ruiz, Program Manager, Sector Development, Indigenous Screen Office
Isabelle Ruiz was born and raised in Tiohtiá:ke (Montreal). She is a Kanyen’kehá:ka and settler woman and her Mohawk family comes from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, where she is a member. Isabelle graduated from Concordia University in 2018 (BFA) and has been in production and broadcasting for the past five years. Starting in VFX, Isabelle worked as production assistant in post-production. Following that, she took on the role of Programming Coordinator at APTN, responsible for projects on linear and streaming services at the broadcaster. Since 2021, Isabelle has been serving as a Program Manager at the Indigenous Screen Office, overseeing various funding programs, including Sector Development, Apprenticeship/Cultural Mentorship, Interactive, and Immersive initiatives.


Ben Kicknosway
Ben is a filmmaker, camera trainee, and working class mook. He is approaching his last rotations with IATSE 667’s camera assistant training. Last year he completed IM4’s virtual reality production program in Vancouver.
Jerry Wolf
Jerry Wolf was born in Toronto and is a filmmaker of Waywayseecappo First Nation and Vietnamese heritage. He is known for his imaginative and thought-provoking stories that explore themes of survival and resilience. His visual style is characterized by dreamlike and surreal imagery, often with a hint of macabre.

Jerry is the founder of CINETHETICA, a boutique production company that specializes in producing short films, webisodes, and music videos that showcase the talent of a culturally diverse group of young actors. With over 20 credits to his name as a writer and director, Jerry is establishing himself as an up-and-coming creative force in the industry.

Jerry was invited to speak at the Indigenous Screen Summit in 2022. He’s currently working on two feature film projects, both of which he plans to direct, and has received funding support from the Canada Council of the Arts, Telefilm Canada, and the Indigenous Screen Office.

His films have been screened at the Skoden Film Festival, Asinabka Film & Media Arts Festival, Caribbean Tales International Film Festival, and the Reelworld Film Festival.
Leigh George
Marshall Leigh George is a writer, director, location recordist, musician, and award-winning sound designer. He is a graduate of Capilano University’s Independent Indigenous Film-making Program, and a graduate of the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology where he earned a diploma in Sound Engineering. He also has a passion for youth engagement and has many years of experience, both teaching and mentoring youth as an instructor at Kettle Point Hillside School, and as the Post-Production Instructor/Lab Supervisor at Cap U. Leigh and his partner Christina Clark established Muse Production Company in 2021, and have since directed and produced several documentaries for the Anishinabek Nation and a music video for Brothers Wilde, which was an official selection at the Southwest International Film-festival. As a location recordist he has worked on numerous productions ranging from APTN productions to Hallmark MOW’s as well as mixing for TIFF selection, Rosie.
Amanda Roy
Amanda Roy is Anishinaabek from Wiikwemkoong. She has worked with the National Film Board as an Associate Producer for their Hothouse Animation program and is currently with their English documentary studio. She has worked on various film, tv, and digital media projects in various roles with several Indigenous production companies that have screened worldwide..

Amanda is also a Hnatyshyn Foundation Reveal Indigenous Art Award Laureate and a Netflix-BANFF Diversity of Voices Fellow. Her artwork has been exhibited in spaces such as the Smithsonian Institute, the Berkeley Art Center, the Royal Alberta Museum, the Whyte Museum, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, the Textile Museum of Canada, and She:kon Gallery. She has also completed several artist residencies.

Following the keynote, attendees will be split up into three facilitated breakout sessions on:

  • Building a Strong Workforce, facilitated by Erica Proudlock (Ontario Film Office)
  • Building Stronger Companies, facilitated by Diane Davy (WorkInCulture)
  • The Future of Work (and everything), facilitated by Chris Wilson (Evenings and Weekends)

The closing session will take a deep dive into the unique perspectives of Gen Z and emerging professionals in the creative industry workforce.

Gen Z + Emerging Professionals Panel:


Ali Areesh Somani, Business Affairs and Research Coordinator, Ontario Creates
Ali Areesh Somani is the Business Affairs and Research Coordinator at Ontario Creates. Ali is a community leader, change maker and speaker passionate about championing equity in youth empowerment. Ali has led several professional development projects for young professionals with organizations like Toronto Raptors, The Neighbourhood Group, Princess Trust Canada, and has worked with multiple government stakeholders on policy changes for youth empowerment. With a commitment to fostering dialogue and creating opportunities for the next generation of creative professionals to thrive in the evolving workforce landscape, Ali is dedicated to exploring the unique perspectives and challenges faced by youth entering the industry. As an advocate for youth employment and building the workforce of the future, he is passionate about building community and creating opportunities for young professionals to connect and invest in their career development. Ali is an active community youth leader; in a voluntary capacity, he formerly served as a Policy and Operations Lead at the Books, Art, and Music Collective, where he empowered individuals, especially youth, through policy, art, innovation, and community engagement. Ali has recently received several grants, including the Skills Training Grant by Project Learning Tree Canada, to help youth find meaningful employment.


Adam Daniels, Game Design Student, George Brown College
Adam Daniels is an RTA: New Media graduate and current Game Design student at George Brown. Adam is a lead on a game jam in production and loves to be creative. Adam is excited to enter the gaming field and get his career off the ground.
Keira Wade, Senior Client Services Manager, Catalog, Anthem Music Publishing
Keira Wade is a Sr. Client Service Manager, Catalog at Anthem Entertainment, one of the world’s leading independent music publishers. Keira has worked in a variety of roles within the music industry, including publicist, manager, grant writer, promoter, radio host, booking agent, and musician. Throughout their career, Keira has worked with a diverse range of artists, labels, and promoters, both nationally and internationally. In their spare time, Keira pursues their passions as a vinyl DJ (amateur) and ceramicist (also amateur).
Maryan Haye, Television Writer/Actor
Maryan Haye is a Somali-Canadian writer and actor born and raised in Toronto. Working primarily in young adult, comedy, and children's TV, she is excited to create stories that celebrate diverse voices. She is a graduate of the RTA Media Production program at TMU, was a 2018 E20 ReelWorld fellow, and a 2021 graduate of the OYA Emerging Filmmakers Program. She has most recently worked as a Writer and Story Editor on Season 1 of Popularity Papers, a YTV/BBC Studios tween comedy series.
Zee Bolad, Film and Television – Business Student, Centennial College
Zee Bolad is an aspiring animation and VR producer currently completing a postgraduate in Film and Television Business at Centennial College. Zee comes from a multidisciplinary creative side, and has years of arts management experience. Zee’s past creative work has been chosen for the Pan Am Games, Hart House, and TEDxUTSC’s Converging Realities conference. Zee has worked in spaces such as the Toronto International Film Festival, Dark Slope, and Fringe Festival, as well as volunteered at TAAFI, ReelAsian, and the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair. Zee graduated with an Honours Bachelors in Literature, Visual Art, and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Toronto. When not working, Zee loves to play the flute, sometimes with the university's alumni band, help in the community, learn about the planet, think up new things, and spend time with loved ones.

Musical Guest:

    AHI, singer-songwriter

    The day will conclude with a musical performance from AHI. With a voice like “gravel on silk”, Brampton-born singer-songwriter AHI has learned to balance his instrument’s power across a colourful landscape of tightly-crafted lyrics, driving rhythms and catchy melodies, propelling him to the forefront of the contemporary Folk/Roots scene.

    Date & Time

    February 29, 2024

    8:30am - 12:30pm


    El Mocambo 

    464 Spadina Ave. 

    Toronto, ON M5T 2G8

    If you have any questions, please contact for assistance.