The Asper Visiting Chair in Journalism

The Asper Visiting Chair spends one semester on campus teaching Aboriginal Affairs, International Indigenous Issues, cultural diversity, minority rights or Canadian demographics. In addition, the visiting professor acts as a resource person for students, faculty and staff in the School of Journalism, the Indian Federated College and across the University of Regina campus.


2007 - 2009 Asper Chair: Leonzo Barreno

Leonzo Barreno was born and raised in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. He obtained his primary and high school education in Guatemala. He came to Saskatchewan in 1989. After completing the language requirements (ESL) he immediately enrolled in the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC), where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts, Honors, in Indian Studies in 1996. During his time as a student he found employment at SIFC in the maintenance area, he then served as an Administrative Assistant to the Director of International Programs in 1992. In 1994, Mr. Barreno was appointed Coordinator of the International Indigenous Programs, a position he held until the end of the program in 1997. During his term as a Coordinator, more than 70 Indigenous young leaders from 20 countries became SIFC students. The international program offered a certificate in International Indigenous Management to those who completed the program. The program was also offered for two years in Costa Rica and one year in Chiapas, Mexico.

Between 1998 and 1999 Mr. Barreno, in consultation with the SIFC Elders and executive, Government representatives and Aboriginal youth developed the concept, goal and activities of the Aboriginal Youth Leadership Development Program (AYLDP). Since 1999 AYLDP has created several Leadership, Traditional and Academic programs for Aboriginal youth and adults. In June 2000, Leonzo was appointed Director of the Indigenous Center for International Development (ICID) of the SIFC.

As the administrative head of both the AYLDP and ICID, Mr. Barreno is responsible for creating and implementing Leadership and Traditional programs for local Aboriginal people and to oversee SIFCs International commitments. One of the main duties under the International center is to be the program manager of the Indigenous Studies and Education program in partnership with the University of Chiapas, Mexico. The program is in its fourth year and has resulted in the creation of a Masters in Indigenous Education in Chiapas where 38 students have completed the Program, with more graduates in 2003 and 2004. A Degree in Management and Indigenous Self Development is under the approval process in Mexico and a specialization in International Indigenous Issues is under development at SIFC.

Leonzo has taught the Course "International Indigenous Issues at SIFC for five years. He also taught the course Indigenous Philosophy and Religion in the winter of 2002.

Leonzo has given presentations about Indigenous development and Indigenous higher education in several Universities and forums in Chile, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Mexico and to the Inter American Development Bank in Washington. He is the author of a study about Higher Education Institutions and Programs for Indigenous people in Latin America. The survey was used as a working document by UNESCOs gathering of international experts in the topic in Guatemala in April 2002. Recently, January 7, 2003 Mr. Barreno was approached by the Senate of Canada Standing Committee on Aboriginal People, to participate in a study to examine the issues affecting Aboriginal youth as the Committee aims to develop an "Action Plan for Change that will benefit Aboriginal youth.

He is also participating in a study to analyze the technical need of Indigenous teachers working in Indigenous communities in Latin America. The study is led by the College of the Americas.

Leonzo has served in several local, national and international boards.


2005 Nelson Bird

Nelson BirdNelson Bird has been an Aboriginal Affairs Specialist with CTV Saskatchewan since July, 1998. He covers stories and events throughout the province and also hosts the weekly TV show, Indigenous Circle. As a reporter, Nelson covers stories that are topical in the Aboriginal community. As host of the show, he works to bridge a gap between Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in an effort to create a better understanding of Aboriginal cultures. Along with highlighting stories and events, Nelson lines up musical guests for the show, who are always Aboriginal and Saskatchewan residents. He also co-produces and writes the show.

His position at CTV has enabled him to work on documentaries each year. A Debt of Honor, produced in 1999, focuses on the plight of First Nations Veterans; Trapped, Life on the Line, produced in 2000, focuses on the slow death of the trapping industry in Northern Saskatchewan, and In the Line of Fire, produced in 2001, spotlights the role of Aboriginal people in fighting forest fires in Northern Saskatchewan communities. Nelson has since written and produced several more documentaries, which air on both CTV and APTN.

The broadcaster's recent project took him to the South Pacific in May, 2003 where he filmed a documentary on the Indigenous Peoples of the Island Nations. Reaching Out: Indigenous Circle in the South Pacific was a solo project in which Mr. Bird was the video journalist and reporter. Always looking to the future, he is planning to write and produce several more documentaries to help bridge the gap between Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.

Nelson's intensive work on documentaries has been rewarding, both personally and professionally. In June 2001, he attended the prestigious Radio Television News Directors' Association (RTNDA) awards in Calgary where his documentary A Debt of Honor won the Regional Award for best special event coverage and then won the National RTNDA Award in the same category. Nelson accepted the national award on behalf of CTV in Prince Albert. A Debt of Honor also won an international award that same day; it took top prize for Best Documentary at the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) Awards in Buffalo, New York. In October 2001, Nelson was the recipient of the Women of the Dawn First Nations Award for Journalism, acknowledging him as a role model to Aboriginal youth and for achieving excellence in his chosen career.

Nelson received two Bachelor of Arts degrees in May 1997: one in Indian Studies and the other in Journalism and Communications. He has also received a Certificate in Indian Communication Arts program (INCA) through the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now First Nations University of Canada).

At the University of Regina, while completing his prerequisite classes for entry into the journalism program, Nelson freelanced stories to the Prairie Dog, Windspeaker and Sage Magazines. He also was an organizer of a university-based First Nations radio station and participated as a writer, layout designer and editor of the Native Sun, a university publication by and for SIFC students. In 1996, as part of his program in the School of Journalism, he completed a five-month internship as a TV reporter with CHEK-TV in Victoria, BC.


2003 - 2004 Dana Claxton

Dana Claxton is an award-winning director and media artist. Her work has been screened internationally in more than 15 countries and she has directed projects for the National Film Board of Canada, CBC, VTV, APTN, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Government of BC, as well as independent projects. She was Director and Producer for 52 episodes of Wakanheja -a pre-school tv show and Executive Producer and Segment Director with 26 episodes of ArtZone - a pre-teen program about art making. Dana was a Storyteller for First Stories-VTV and produced 10 segments about the aboriginal community in Vancouver. Her media art installations are held in public collections, including the Vancouver Art Gallery, Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Mackenzie Art Gallery. Her media artwork has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis. Dana combines film and videomaking with elements of visual art, traditional Lakota knowledge, and surrealism. She teaches First Nations Art History at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and is a founding director of the Indigenous Media Arts Group in Vancouver. She has guest lectured at Canadian universities in various departments, participated as a jury member for federal and provincial arts funding bodies and has mentored aboriginal youth in media art and video production. She has completed her course work for a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies at SFU and working on her thesis project. She intends to pursue a Ph.D program in the United States. She was awarded the prestigious Viva Award from the Doris and Jack Shadbolt Foundation for her commitment to contemporary art in Vancouver. Currently, she is writing a chapter on the history of aboriginal media art in Canada and curating a survey exhibition on the same topic for the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff. Claxton has been commissioned by the Moose Jaw Art Gallery to produce and mount an 8 channel installation titled "Tales of Sitting Bull' which will be at the MJAG in the fall of 2004.

Claxton combines her art making with television in the hopes of making critical TV that goes beyond the box. Dana is most interested in breaking stereotypes and assisting with creating new narratives that enhance undiscovered ways of relating to one another. Dana is very committed to maintaining a beautiful relationship with the natural world and walking in a sacred manner upon Maka - Mother Earth. Dana is interested in how technology and divinity can engage, with the hope that the sacrality of life will not be consumed - meaning care for the little frogs and let us not destroy this significant being.

Dana is of mixed heritage and of Lakota Sioux descent. She was born in Yorkton Sask and spent her summers in her father's home town of Wadena Sask with her paternal grandmother. Her mother and maternal grandmother are from the Woodmountain Reserve and her relatives came to Canada with Sitting Bull. Ms. Claxton is committed to a cultural dialogue that enhances Aboriginal and non -aboriginal relations, understanding and respect.


2002 - 2003 Leonzo Barreno

Leonzo Barreno was born and raised in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. He obtained his primary and high school education in Guatemala. He came to Saskatchewan in 1989.

After completing the language requirements (ESL) he immediately enrolled in the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC), where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts, Honors, in Indian Studies in 1996. During his time as a student he found employment at SIFC in the maintenance area, he then served as an Administrative Assistant to the Director of International Programs in 1992. In 1994, Mr. Barreno was appointed Coordinator of the International Indigenous Programs, a position he held until the end of the program in 1997. During his term as a Coordinator, more than 70 Indigenous young leaders from 20 countries became SIFC students. The international program offered a certificate in International Indigenous Management to those who completed the program. The program was also offered for two years in Costa Rica and one year in Chiapas, Mexico.

Between 1998 and 1999 Mr. Barreno, in consultation with the SIFC Elders and executive, Government representatives and Aboriginal youth developed the concept, goal and activities of the Aboriginal Youth Leadership Development Program (AYLDP). Since 1999 AYLDP has created several Leadership, Traditional and Academic programs for Aboriginal youth and adults. In June 2000, Leonzo was appointed Director of the Indigenous Center for International Development (ICID) of the SIFC.

As the administrative head of both the AYLDP and ICID, Mr. Barreno is responsible for creating and implementing Leadership and Traditional programs for local Aboriginal people and to oversee SIFCs International commitments. One of the main duties under the International center is to be the program manager of the Indigenous Studies and Education program in partnership with the University of Chiapas, Mexico. The program is in its fourth year and has resulted in the creation of a Masters in Indigenous Education in Chiapas where 38 students have completed the Program, with more graduates in 2003 and 2004. A Degree in Management and Indigenous Self Development is under the approval process in Mexico and a specialization in International Indigenous Issues is under development at SIFC.

Leonzo has taught the Course "International Indigenous Issues at SIFC for five years. He also taught the course Indigenous Philosophy and Religion in the winter of 2002

Leonzo has given presentations about Indigenous development and Indigenous higher education in several Universities and forums in Chile, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Mexico and to the Inter American Development Bank in Washington. He is the author of a study about Higher Education Institutions and Programs for Indigenous people in Latin America. The survey was used as a working document by UNESCOs gathering of international experts in the topic in Guatemala in April 2002. Recently, January 7, 2003 Mr. Barreno was approached by the Senate of Canada Standing Committee on Aboriginal People, to participate in a study to examine the issues affecting Aboriginal youth as the Committee aims to develop an "Action Plan for Change that will benefit Aboriginal youth.

He is also participating in a study to analyze the technical need of Indigenous teachers working in Indigenous communities in Latin America. The study is led by the College of the Americas.

Leonzo has served in several local, national and international boards.


2001 - 2002 Gary Farmer

Gary Farmer is an actor with extensive experience in film, television, theatre and radio. He is also a producer, publisher and philanthropist in the development of Aboriginal based media in Canada including radio, television and the world wide web.

Garys post secondary school background includes Genesee Community College, Batavia, N.Y., Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y., and Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, primarily in photography and motion picture production. Theatre training includes the Maggie Bassett Studio as part of Tarragon Theatre and the study of clown and mask with Richard Pochinko all in Toronto, Canada where Gary has lived on and off since 1975.

Most recently Gary will appear in the 2001 release, The Score with Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton and Marlon Brando.

Gary starred in Jim Jarmuschs, Dead Man, winner of the European Academy Award in 1997 for Best Foreign Film, Berlin, Germany. The first American film to win the honour. For his role as, Nobody, Gary received his second Spirit Award nomination for Supporting Actor from the Independent Feature Project in Los Angeles, 1997, and won the Best Actor award at both the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco and the First Americans in the Arts in Los Angeles in 1997. Gary was also the recipient of the James Buller Award for the Male Performer of the Year in 1997 in Toronto by the Centre for Indigenous Theatre.

More recently, Gary was nominated for his third Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor for the Independent Feature Project, Los Angeles in 1999 for his role of, Arnold Joseph in Miramaxs, Smoke Signals. Gary is always fondly remembered for his performance as, Philbert Bono in HandMade Films 1989 Native American road movie, Powwow Highway, winner of the Best Film at the American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, CA and recipient of the Filmmakers Award at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Gary won an award for Best Actor at the American Indian Film Festival and garnered his first Supporting Actor nod from the Independent Feature Project, Los Angeles in 1989.

In Canada, Gary received a Genie nomination in 1995 for Best Actor in the film Henry and Verlin. Other films of note are Route 666 (01), Ghost Dog (00), Heater (99) Delivering Milo (99), Angels Dont Sleep Here (99) Lilies (97) Tales from the Crypt, Demon Knight (98) Dark Wind (95) Ed and His Dead Mother (94) Blue City Slammers (88) Blown Away (91) The Believers (88) Police Academy (82) The Big Town (84) and Renegades (85). Gary has an interesting list of short dramatic films of note and those include 17 minute, Rosas Time (98) and more recently, Two Grey Hills (01) directed by Emma Wilcockson based on a short story by novelist Tony Hillerman.

In television, most recently Gary co-starred in Atlantis-Alliance production titled, Justice, a pilot for a Global Television series. For Turner Network Television, a MOW titled, The Virginian, directed by Bill Pullman.

In 1993, Gary won a Totem Award from the First Americans in the Arts; Los Angeles for playing Captain Stonetree on the cult hit CBS late night series, Forever Knight. Other credits include The Pretender, Promised Land and a recurring role as Chief Tom on The Rez for CBC-TV, Showtime movie, Moonshine Highway, Sparks: The Price of Passion (CBS MOW), China Beach, Miami Vice, ENG (CTV), Plymouth; Earth, Moon, Sun (Disney), Where the Heart Is (CBC) and the popular youth series, Spirit Bay (APTN).

Gary has also narrated a number of interesting documentaries, including Robert Lundahls, Unconquering the Last Frontier (00), and Peter Blows, Village of Widows (99), which won the top documentary prize for Hot Docs, Toronto 2000.

Most recently Gary executive produced 26 hour long episodes of one of the highest rated program for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network 2nd season called, Buffalo Tracks with Evan Adams. Buffalo Tracks showcases the best of Aboriginal entertainment and guests from various walks of life every Friday night at 8pm EST till August 2001. The pilot was developed at the Aboriginal Voices Festival 2000.

As a filmmaker, Gary worked for two years on a 48 minute documentary titled, The Gift (98), shot in Mexico, USA and Canada for the National Film Board of Canada, and broadcast on the inaugural day of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network on September 1, 1999. Currently, Gary is editing his third documentary tentatively titled, 21 Days, for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. A feature documentary off a rock and roll tour through aboriginal communities the summer of 2000. The film is premiering at the Taos Talking Pictures Festival in Taos, New Mexico in April of 2001.

Gary has performed many radio dramas mostly for the CBC. He produced many original dramas for broadcast on alternative and native community radio stations including Sugar Blues; Too Many Diabetic Indians (92) co-produced with the Assembly of First Nations and Victim of Love (92), a tragic story of the proliferation of AIDS within the native community told threw the eyes of a contemporary singer. Acting as a freelance producer, Gary completed programs for the CBC in the days of Our Native Land.

In fall of 1993, Gary launched Aboriginal Voices Magazine originally, The Runner, Native Magazine for Communicative Arts for 3 issues, with the support of the First Nations Technical Institute, Tyendinaga First Nation and Loyalist College for the first issue in the fall of 1993 and subsequently published independently 27 more issues till Volume 6, Number 5, October/November 1999.

In 1998, the Aboriginal Voices Radio Training and Production Centre was established. The Centre runs radio training programs at a facility adjacent to Aboriginal Voices Magazine at 116 Spadina Avenue in downtown Toronto. The centres mission is to develop personnel for a future radio station in Toronto and across the country.


2000 - 2001 Connie Deiter

Connie Deiter became the first Global Television Network Visiting Chair at the University of Regina School of Journalism (winter 2001). A law graduate from York University's Osgood Hall, Deiter has produced commentaries for the Alberta-based newspaper Windspeaker, CBC Radio and the Edmonton Journal. Her book From Our Mothers' Arms was nominated for two Saskatchewan Book Awards and won the 1999 Saskatchewan Book Award in First Nations' Publishing. The book tells the stories of First Nations people and their experience in the residential school system. Deiter has been a sessional lecturer with the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College since 1994 developing and teaching courses in Aboriginal Law, Indian studies, gender issues, Indigenous political systems, Cree culture, and Aboriginal women's issues. In her work with Prairie Sky Consultants, Deiter provides advisory services for First Nations' communities and organizations in Saskatchewan, including research into Aboriginal administrative structures. As Justice Director with the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council she developed community-based justice initiatives for 16 First Nations, facilitated elder workshops, and built collaborative relations between police, courts, and First Nations' communities.

Photo: Past Global Chair Nelson Bird