Chehala Leonard is the new producer at the NFB’s North West Studio. Leonard will work out of the studio’s Edmonton office. The news was announced yesterday via the NFB.
“We’re so pleased that Chehala is joining the NFB, because she brings invaluable experience and insight to the producing work that we’re doing—which also reflects the NFB’s ongoing commitments to include diverse voices and perspectives,” said executive producer David Christensen in a statement from the NFB. “She will work with a broad range of creators, and I know that Chehala is going to be positively engaged with all of them. She’ll be kept busy as a public producer, where I know she will flourish.”
Leonard is a member of the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation and the founder of ᐊᐢᑭᕀ Askîy Media Inc. The latter is an Indigenous-owned production company that “focuses on sharing land-based stories through film and media.” Leonard’s appointment makes her among the first producers at the NFB as it continues to make advances in its commitments to Indigenous storytellers and to diverse representation across all facets of the organization.
Leonard’s credits include the 2021 APTN documentary Living a Legacy, which traces the 4000 km pilgrimage on foot taken by a young woman of mixed Cree, Iroquois and European descent from the Rocky Mountains to the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake as she learns more about her heritage. Leonard produced and directed the doc and held both roles, as well as cinematographer and editor, on the Canadian Rockies series. She also played Emma in the series Ollie and Emma and hosted APTN’s Arctic-shot series Road Scholars. Her work as a journalist includes bylines in outlets such as IndigiNews, APTN, the Toronto Star, and Global News. Leonard holds Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies from the University of Alberta and a Certificate in Adventure Film from Serac Adventure Film School in Colorado.