Wapanatahk Media launches in Canada, with focus on Indigenous storytelling

L-R: Shirley McLean and Tania Koenig-Gauchier

Wapanatahk Media, a new production company based in Canada’s British Columbia, has launched, with a focus on producing and developing content focused on authentic Indigenous characters and stories.

The company, which was launched in partnership with Thunderbird Entertainment’s factual and scripted label Great Pacific Media, also aims to provide employment opportunities for BIPOC creators in the television industry.

Wapanatahk Media has been co-founded by Indigenous producers Tania Koenig-Gauchier and Shirley McLean, both of whom have lived knowledge of Indigenous creative communities. “Wapanatahk” translates to “morning star” in Plains Cree, reflecting the new company’s hopes of heralding “a new era in Canadian entertainment, where both viewers and critics call for greater diversity of voices.”

Koenig-Gauchier is a Métis (Cree) producer with more than 20 years of experience in broadcasting and independent production. She has worked as a producer for CBC, CTV, and most recently spent five years as manager of programming (western region) at APTN.

McLean, meanwhile, also has 20 years’ experience as a story producer, director and reporter for APTN, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon, CBC North, and CTV Vancouver. She is of Tlingit and Tagish descent from the Dakl’aweidi Killer Whale clan and is a member of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation in the Yukon.

Wapanatahk Media has already set its first project, with Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet, to air on the APTN and Blue Ant networks. The series will follow Métis veterinarian Dr Savannah Howse-Smith, as she cares for rural Alberta’s pet and animal population, while learning more about her recently-confirmed Métis bloodline. The series is due to begin filming in April and will employ Indigenous production staff in Vancouver and Alberta, sponsoring apprenticeships throughout the summer of 2021.

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