Monica Virtue is a recent graduate of the Masters in Digital Futures (MDes) program at OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario. The two-year program is in partnership with the CFC Media Lab.

Monica’s thesis project, The Ipperwash Beach Walk, was awarded the 2016 medal for the Digital Futures Masters program at OCAD’s 101st GradEx graduate exhibition.

To read her thesis document, download the PDF file here:

Thesis Document – 107 pages – Low resolution – May 2016 (4.5 MB)
Thesis Document – 107 pages – Print quality – May 2016 (111 MB)

The Ipperwash Beach Walk builds on her past experience as a producer specializing in the development of documentaries and real-life stories. Her experience includes historical and investigative research, creative story development, field producing, interviews, camera operation and editing, sourcing stock footage and photos from archives, and social media.

Monica has 10 years independent production experience under her belt, with seven of those spent conducting original research under the guidance of a social justice law firm. She has done research at Collections Canada, the Archives of Ontario, local archives and museums, courthouses and land registries. She is particularly adept at finding underlying stories in unexpected places.

In 2005, Monica was hired by Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors (lawyers for the Estate of First Nations protester Anthony “Dudley” George) to produce an educational documentary known as The Ipperwash Park Film Project. The project was initially scheduled to last six months, and was to plug gaps in knowledge growing out of the ongoing Ipperwash Inquiry. The project came to incorporate multiple storylines, including First Nations land surrenders at Ipperwash, Kettle Point, Caledonia, and a number of substantial surrenders in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley. Monica also conducted a thorough investigation into hundreds of Inquiry audio exhibits, tracked down experts in First Nations history, and sourced stock footage and still photos from archives across North America. The project lasted seven years.

Monica was able to unearth so many unseen documents involving the land transactions at Ipperwash that it provoked Justice Sidney Linden to remark during Inquiry testimony that,

It is astonishing that after all these years, and all this investigation, and all this work that all of us have done that documents are still surfacing at this late date.”

This research was put on public record during the testimony of former Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Chris Hodgson, as well as former Ontario Premier Mike Harris.

Since 2003, Monica has been collecting content for her own independent feature documentary on the personal journey of Sam George, who sought justice after his brother Dudley George was killed by police. In addition, she has created several short films, including one for Amnesty International Canada (Freedom Drum, 2007) and several independent shorts about the recent Idle No More movement.

Monica is currently seeking completion funding for both Ipperwash films, and hopes to combine the two into a single multi-platform transmedia project.

Although Monica can be analytical, and is able to break complex assignments into smaller parts, she is equally creative. She is able to direct actors in dramatic sequences, operate camera, and edit video footage using Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere. She created all of the wardrobe, sets and props herself for almost 20 different historical recreations for The Ipperwash Park Film Project. She interacts well with people from different cultural and economic backgrounds, and can navigate interpersonal conflicts in order to follow a story.

Formerly a volunteer reporter and camera operator with Rogers Television, Monica has spoken to classes at York University and Lakehead University about her Ipperwash project and First Nations issues. She has completed an internship with Hyde Park Entertainment in their international sales office at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. She has also volunteered as a foster parent to dogs rescued through the Aboriginal Community Advocacy Connection and other local animal welfare groups.

Prior to attending film school, Monica was a writer, photographer and graphic designer at Oxford Media Group, a local communication and marketing company in Woodstock, Ontario, where she focused on branding, web site design and client newsletters such as the Woodstock General Hospital Newsletter.

Before pursuing graduate studies, Monica earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, a Certificate in Business from Fanshawe College, and a graduate certificate in Advanced Television & Film from Sheridan College.

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