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President’s Message

From all of your ACTRA Maritimes Council and Branch office we would like to wish you all a prosperous 2020 and a Happy New Year.

Reflecting on 2019 we are very proud of the many successes of our members, including ACTRA Maritimes awards for Shelley Thompson (Splinters), Bailey Maughan (Splinters), Kathryn MacLellan (Hopeless Romantic) and Jordan Poole (Birthmarked). We also presented the John Dunsworth Screen Actors’ Fund Award to the very first recipients, Charlie Jean Boyle and Fiona Forsythe. This September at the FIN film festival, Little Grey Bubbles, directed by Charles Wahl and produced by ACTRA Maritimes members Josh MacDonald and Kevin Kincaid also took home honours for Best Atlantic Short Film! We are also very excited with news this week, that the locally lensed feature film The Lighthouse was nominated for an Academy Award, and Thom Fitzgerald’s Stage Mother The Movie was voted Best of the Fest at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

2019 was a busy year for our members with work on many productions that were filmed locally in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. These productions included The Good House, Locke &Key, Captive, Diggstown Season 2, Books of Blood, This Hour has 22 Minutes, Trailer Park Boys: The Jail Series, Tin Can, Bone Cage, I Hear You, Night Blooms, Shush, Jonathan Torrens Your Two Cents, the I am Syd Stone web series, the PEI feature film A Small Fortune and more. Our members also worked on commercials for radio and television, including a large campaign with 25 ACTRA members engaged on a series of Tourism spots for broadcast and for the internet.

Many of our members were involved in producing and directing projects as well, and we are very pleased that these productions were able to film in the Maritime provinces. However, significant challenges remain. The ACTRA Maritimes office has run a deficit for multiple years and your Council has had to consider the fiscal viability of the Branch. We have reduced our office staff making the difficult decision to lay off Business Representatives Tami Thomson and Eva MacGregor this past year, losing over 20 years of experience and commitment to our membership. We wish them all of our best and sincerely thank them for their service and dedication to our membership and union.

To grow forward and to restore staffing levels, we need more productions, and more crew members available for multiple productions filming at the same time.  With these goals for more productions in mind, your Council has been very busy and active with initiatives for our branch. In particular, Political Action is at the forefront, with Council and Branch staff attending many events and meetings, and also producing the “Just Ask” election video, which was featured by ACTRA National and seen across the country.

I also want to thank everyone who attended our Annual General Meeting this past year, and also the Labour Day Rally, as this participation truly strengthens us as a union. With the challenges our industry faces, in addition to our work as actors on film sets, we also need to be out in public together to be seen and heard! Our National President David Sparrow led the charge when he spoke with us at our AGM this last year, and we are very pleased with the participation of our members in the “Keep Canada on our Screens” campaign.

Change is a constant within our industry and in May of this past year, after 40 years leading us as our National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, Stephen Waddell announced his retirement. Across the country our ACTRA members welcomed Marie Kelly as our new National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator. Marie is a labour lawyer coming to ACTRA after six years at the Ontario Nurses’ Association. Marie has a wealth of knowledge and experience having also previously worked for the United Steelworkers for 22 years. We are very pleased that Stephen will be with us for another year sharing his knowledge with Marie in the role of Executive Advisor.

I am also delighted to announce that Francine Deschepper has been acclaimed as our ACTRA Maritimes National Councillor for the new 2020-2022 term. I would like to thank Francine for all her efforts on our behalf over the first two years of her tenure, and for her willingness to commit to another term. Francine has been tireless in her work on ACTRA National Council and has represented and championed Maritimes issues at the National table with grace and energy and determination. We know she will continue to be a powerful voice for our membership on the national stage!

Best regards to all,

Chris Cuthbertson


ACTRA Maritimes

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