From a community access & media training base, George Lessard creates in print, broadcast radio & TV and educational media. Now a Lethbridge artist in electronic & digital media, George is a Francophone Quebecois born / brought up in Rosemère, north of Montreal, Canada.
A Kodak Brownie box camera in his hands at 12, encouragement from a family of artists, opened up a beginning back at 1969’s Montreal’s first English language CEGEP, Dawson College through with the unboxing of the student radio station’s Revox stereo reel-to-reel tape recorders and a subsequent immersion in the dawn of Canadian community access radio at the then Radio McGill (now CKUT 90.3 FM) where we were part of the enabling of Montreal’s Radio Centre-Ville 102.3 FM (the city’s first multilingual/cultural broadcast community station) and the fight for community access cable TV in Canada….
Two years as SENIOR AUDIO VISUAL TECHNICIAN – VANIER COLLEGE Snowdon Campus, Montrèal, Quèbec, George managed a multimedia production centre; created classroom audiovisuals & instructed the use & production of multi-camera live video, super 8, audio and black & white photography was his lead in to a stint as the only EDUCATIONAL MEDIA CONSULTANT & AUDIO VISUAL TECHNICIAN – CHATEAUGUAY VALLEY REGIONAL PROTESTANT SCHOOL BOARD Ormstown, Quèbec. George was responsible for the day to day operations; the software, hardware & allocation of capital equipment; maintenance & repair of all equipment; provided support services for about 125 high school and elementary school teachers & their students in this 6 school organization.
Late in the ’70’s George’s first exposure to the world outside Quebec was in the as MANAGER & TRAINER OF VOLUNTEERS – ROGERS CABLE TV, Toronto, Ontario where he taught all aspects of community TV production & managed the volunteer corps of Canada’s largest access station.
Returning to Quebec’s Arctic as MEDIA PRODUCTION & MANAGEMENT TRAINER for TAQRAMIUT NIPINGAT INC., Salluit, Nunavik in the early ’80s, he helped local media workers learn all aspects of media production, scripting, construction and content & management at an Inuit owned and operated radio & TV broadcast centre that was one of the founding members of TVNC (TV Northern Canada) the immediate predecessor of the Aboriginal People’s TV Network from late 1981 to 1988.
In 1985 George was a featured presenter on Inuit broadcasting in Canada’s Arctic at the University of Pennsylvania’s ANNENBERG SCHOOL FOR COMMUNICATION at that year’s meeting of the Visual Studies Conference.
In 1988, he then undertook a similar posting to that in Salluit, at the INUVIALUIT COMMUNICATIONS SOCIETY, Inuvik, N.W.T. getting a return gig in 1999..
In the late 1980’s George was able to undertake studies at The Banff Centre in ADVANCED TV PRODUCTION – ELECTRONIC & FILM MEDIA with the eminent documentarian and American TV producer of the war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann, Milton Fruchtman and a second full scholarship for the Visual Arts (Audio Program) .
During this time at Banff, amongst his many collaborations as video artist & editor, in 1986 the dramatic narrative, video “RUMBLESPHINX” (with video artists Robert Hamilton and Dave Clark) won the 1987 PRIX RADIO-QUEBEC from Quebec’s educational TV network and the AWARD OF EXCELLENCE, 10th TOKYO VIDEO FESTIVAL and was distributed in both the US and Canada by Vidéographe.
This was his first work where he collaborated using the first Kou Nakajima “Aniputer” digital animation device outside of Japan The Aniputer was an animation device that combined a video camera and a personal computer. Using joysticks instead of a keyboard, artists used the Aniputer to create animation in real time without the need to know a programming language…
George toured Canada demonstrating the Aniputer, stopping at VIDEO POOL, Winnipeg; EM MEDIA, Calgary; INTER-ACCESS, Toronto; the VISUAL STUDIES WORKSHOP, Rochester, NY; and La Maison de la Culture du Plateau Mt. Royal Montrèal in addition to his presentations at Banff.
In 1992 George was offered the position of LECTURER at the COLLEGE OF THE BAHAMAS, Nassau, Bahamas, lecturing & providing hands on training for Journalism & Communications majors in Electronic News Gathering (ENG), Photojournalism, Business Communications and Introduction to Interpersonal & Small Group Communications.
In 1995 he was hired as a FOREIGN EXPERT – COPY EDITOR / POLISHER for the CHINA DAILY GROUP, Beijing, People’s Republic of China, copy editing & polishing stories written by Chinese reporters and editors for the only English language educational “21st Century” publication distributed across China.
In Eastern India as a MEDIA PLANNER for Gram Vikas in Orissa, India George took up a post to this rural development NGO to establish a media facility and to document its field work and create training media for its staff; advise on the purchase of appropriate hardware; and train staff in the operation of audio, video & photographic hardware for a year in 1996/7.
From the first year Nunavut existed, 1999 and until 2004 he was the senior MEDIA SPECIALIST for the DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, GOVERNMENT OF NUNAVUT in Arviat, Nunavut. This included setting up the media production facility so that there was the necessary equipment to create any media (analogue & digital) necessary to deliver curricular programs to the K-12 teachers of the Nunavut school system. Production included print publications and digital media of many kinds in Inuktitut and English.
George has volunteered for the Canadian Executive Service Organization with placements in La Paz, Bolivia; Chelyabinsk, Russia; and Manu, Peru…
George’s work with non-for-profit boards began back in Montreal with the artist-run centre PRIM (Video as it used to be called) newly 40 years ago, in the early 1980s… when he served on their board…
When he moved from Arviat, Nunavut to Ft Smith, Northwest Territories in 2004, he was also a MEMBER OF THE BOARD of The Artists of the South Slave Society for three years and he also served on the board of the Association des francophones de Fort Smith and served on the Fort Smith Tourism Committee.
His move to Yellowknife four years later enabled him to join the board of the Aurora Arts Society; serve as VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD – The John Howard Society of the Northwest Territories; be a MEMBER OF THE BOARD of The Frozen Eyes Photographic Society of the NWT; enjoy a nine year experience as a Member of the Board of the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre; participate as a MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY JUSTICE COMMITTEE; and be a Member of the Northwest Territories Elders Parliament in the ‘first in the British Commonwealth’ Elder’s Parliament organized by the Assembly of the Northwest Territories.
His muse now moves from his postings to & showings in Toronto, Vancouver, Banff Calgary, Yellowknife, Inuvik, and Fort Smith Northwest Territories, Salluit, Nunavik (Arctic) Quebec & Arviat, Nunavut, Beijing, China; Nassau, the Bahamas; La Paz, Bolivia; Butare, Rwanda; Chelyabinsk, Russia; Berhampur, Odisha, India and Manu, Peru.
These days he uploads / streams reflective experiential imagery from Lethbridge, and the surrounding parries and coulees … On the traditional territory of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), Nakoda (Stoney) and Tsuut’ina.