Renae Morriseau is familiar as the character Ellen in the Canadian television series North of 60, but her accomplishments in broadcasting extend far beyond this visible role. In her determination to ensure that First Nations voices are heard and stories told, Renae’s career over the last dozen years has spanned acting, filmmaking, writing, and producing.
Peguis First Nation, Manitoba
Filmmaker, Actress, Writer
Renae, age 36, was first introduced to television broadcasting when working at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre in Winnipeg.
Her Within the Circle programs, which were shown on the local community cable station, became teaching tools for the centre. Renae went on to co-host, write, and produce segments for First Nations, a nationally broadcast Aboriginal news magazine program.
In 1991, Renae created the Coyote Collective, a group of First Nations producers, directors, technicians, and writers from across Canada who are dedicated to advancing First Nations issues through broadcast television. Her documentaries have won critical acclaim.
In both 1994 and 1995, her work was honoured as best documentary by the Native American Journalists Association.
In 1996, the American Indian Film Festival awarded her a Best Public Service plaque for her documentary, Echoes of the Sister, about First Nations women and breast cancer, and an organization that showcases excellence in Canadian television, CANPRO, awarded her a Silver Medal Award for The Medicine Wheel.
Renae works with young people in leadership workshops and television training. She believes that this generation must take an active role in their communities.
Renae says, “Especially our young women, they need to develop their skills in the ever-changing technology of today’s world. It’s important to be aware of the technological advances in computer developments and science. These skills are necessary for our communities to be involved with the greater community of Canada.”