Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 84: Media and Reconciliation (84-86)

Supporting Indigenous-led storytelling through permanent funding for the Indigenous Screen Office

March 14, 2024

News release

Canadian Heritage: The promotion of Indigenous cultures and languages is essential, while being a powerful tool for healing, reconciliation and fostering a strong sense of identity. The audiovisual sector is a key vehicle for the revitalization of Indigenous cultures and languages.

Today, the Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced permanent funding to support Indigenous-led storytelling through the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO). This includes $65 million over five years starting in 2024–25 and $13 million per year ongoing.

The funding will enable more First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to tell their own stories and see themselves reflected on screen. It provides stability, increases Indigenous self-determination, and allows the ISO to develop long-term relationships with partners and sponsors. This announcement builds off work in the Online Streaming Act to support Indigenous storytelling and help audiences find and enjoy Indigenous programming in different languages.

The ISO is an independent, Indigenous-led organization that fosters and supports narrative sovereignty and cultural revitalization by increasing Indigenous storytelling on screen. In the six years since it was created, the ISO has done incredible work to create and build the Indigenous audiovisual sector.

Some success stories from the ISO include:

·        Bones of Crows, which is the first Indigenous- and female-led miniseries and feature film about the residential school experience in North America;

·        Night Raiders, a critically acclaimed sci-fi dystopian film set in 2044;

·        Support for training initiatives on Little Bird, which received 19 nominations at the 2024 Canadian Screen Awards, including for best drama series and best drama performance. This Indigenous-led series follows an Indigenous woman on a journey to find her birth family and uncover the hidden truth of her past;

·        Slash/Back, a sci-fi teen horror set in Nunavut; and

·        Dear Flora (Pour toi Flora), a miniseries that explores the reality of residential schools in Quebec.

The ISO has also built partnerships with Netflix, Google, the Sundance Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Three ISO-funded feature films premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2022, and this year’s TIFF showcased the highest number of Indigenous-made films in its history. In 2023, the ISO also held the first Indigenous Screen Summit at Cannes.

Ongoing funding for the Indigenous Screen Office Program directly responds to the action plan of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. The ISO’s track record of supporting gender parity is also important in relation to Calls for Justice in the Final Report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.


“The Indigenous Screen Office is changing lives and enabling Indigenous peoples to share their authentic stories at home and abroad. Making sure Indigenous communities have the means and the capacity to tell their stories is an essential part of our commitment to reconciliation. We fully support the ISO in making possible these creative works that are vital for a brighter future for Canada and Indigenous peoples.”

—The Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“Securing ongoing funding marks a major milestone for the ISO and the Indigenous storytellers we support, and provides us all with a stable foundation from which to grow. This is only the beginning for the ISO as we embark on the full expression of our mandate to build an Indigenous screen sector in Canada, and for Indigenous-made stories on screen to inspire audiences around the world.”

—Kerry Swanson, Chief Executive Officer, Indigenous Screen Office

Quick facts
  • For the last two completed years, the ISO has delivered over $24.6 million to support First Nations, Métis, and Inuit creators, which represents about 42 percent of all funding in the Indigenous screen sector. 
  • For 2022–23, the ISO disbursed a total of $11.8 million in direct contributions to 191 recipients across 12 provinces and territories, including an additional $1.02 million in funding through strategic partnership programs.
  • In 2022–23, the ISO allocated over 50 percent of the fiscal year’s funding for Sector Development to support the ground-up building of a film and production studio in Iqaluit, Nunavut. This notable milestone was the ISO’s largest funding commitment yet.
  • In 2022–23, 87.7 percent of ISO production funding went to projects that included Indigenous languages, which is an increase of 20 percent compared to the previous year.
Associated links

For more information (media only), please contact:

Ariane Joazard-Bélizaire
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage