Candis Callison

Mike Jackson | Evan Adams | Michelle Bryant | Candis Callison | Ian Campbell | Bernard Casavant | Stacey Edzerza | Lenny Fisher | Dave Griffin | Trevor A. Joe | Tewanee Joseph | Rose Lesner | Duncan McCue | Carey Newman | Cherie Joy Rochelle Peal | Jason Rock | Lisa Sam

Remember Candis Callison’s name, because you’re going to be hearing more and more about her. Those lists you sometimes see in magazines forecasting “Names of People to Watch in the Future”– she’ll be on there.

Writer, television reporter, documentary filmmaker, web producer, and now …student again. At the age of almost-29, Candis is going back to school – a scholarship grad student at MIT in Boston. She is immersing herself in the exciting realm of new media where television and the Internet are coming together.

A Tahltan, with her traditional territory in the second most remote area of British Columbia, Candis grew up mostly in Vancouver. She graduated when she was 16, and entered university planning to study history. But she was determined not to struggle financially, and decided to switch her studies to Business Administration. When she graduated she went overseas to Hungary, teaching English at an all-boys Catholic high school.

Returning to Canada, she had a tough time finding work. Through the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, she was offered three very different jobs – working at a ski school, at a bank, and with a documentary TV series. She chose documentaries, and there found her work passion. Taking filmmaking courses at night at BCIT, she worked days on a TV series and a First Nations newsletter. She launched into media, working across film, television and radio. At the age of 23, she produced a documentary on her own people, travelling with a camera crew into Tahltan territory.

She was becoming interested in technology, and was hired to produce a report about ways to increase access to the Internet for aboriginal people.

Then she became part of the start-up team at the new television station VTV . She did all kinds of things, including building the website, and creating an in-depth Internet strategy. Then the station convinced her to go in front of the camera, doing a daily on-air segment about technology. Soon she was involved in a national television magazine program about aboriginal people, called First Story.. She couldn’t have been sleeping much, because she was
co-producing, hosting and writing First Story, producing mini-documentaries for the program, and still doing the daily segment on TV news and managing the website.

She applied for an online job posting for a senior writer with Ziff-Davis Television in the U.S., able as a First Nations person to work across the border. When they saw Candis’ videotape of her on-camera work, they offered her a job not just as senior writer, but as a reporter-producer.

“I was catapulted into San Francisco, interviewing the great movers and shakers in Silicon Valley. I had access to all of these amazing people who are very big names now. It was a fascinating year for me; to totally immerse myself in the core of technology and new media .”

Not only was she on television there, but the video was shown on the Web, and her reports went out on Internet radio, and she wrote the stories that were printed on the website.

Then she moved again, and got a job producing all of the online content for Lycos is the fourth most popular destination on the Web.

Candis is starting her school year right now. She lives in Boston with her husband, who is also First Nations and Canadian, and who is studying and working at Harvard. Candis knows she will return to Canada – she will want to be closer to her family and to her territory. When she comes back, she’ll definitely be part of our “brain gain”.

What would she say to students who might be itching to get out of the classroom?
“Stay in school, because life gets better. It really does. If you have the basics, the world opens up to you. It doesn’t matter what kind of background you come from. The world is in your hands.”

Stepping Stones
How did you get to where you are now?

Candis Callison
High school
Trinity Western University – History / Business Administration
BCIT – night school course in filmmaking
Television and film – producing, reporting, writing, and hosting for CBC, CTV and other media companies
San Francisco and ZDTV
Boston and Lycos
Accepted for her Masters at London School of Economics in England and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in USA
Accepted MIT

Thinking About School
Thinking About … School Now
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to go back to school. Grateful! It’s not a right. A lot of people my age don’t get the opportunity to go back to school, and certainly don’t get the opportunity to get it paid for. I look at it as a precious two years. I have a huge opportunity to learn and to create. It’s a gift, and that’s going to be hard to remember when finals and papers are staring me in the face and I have hundreds of hours of work to do – but that is how I feel about it. And it’s up to me now, to make the most of it.”
Thinking About … School Then
“I stayed in school because my mother was strict about school. I was surviving and making it through. But afterwards when I got to use what I was learning, I became very thankful that I stuck it out. Now I think that school gives you a wonderful freedom to learn about yourself and learn about the world around you.
– Candis

Copyright 2012 First Nations Education Steering Committee and First Nations Schools Association