John Kim Bell, Mohawk, 1952-
He is a Mohawk artist and promoter of Native culture
and achievemtn. He was born on the Kahnawake Mohawk Reserve in
Quebec and studied music since he was eight. He and was conducting
Broadway musicals in New York City at the young age of 18 and
was appointed Apprentice Conductor of the Toronto Symphony, making
him the first Aboriginal person to ever conduct a symphony orchestra.
Bell then graduated from the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Sienna
and went on to serve as Apprentice Conductor to Zubin Mehta at
the New York Philharmonic where he met and studied with the legendary
conductor Leonard Bernstein. A CBC documentary on Bell’s
life in 1984 brought him to the attention of the Aboriginal community.
Impassioned by the deplorable living conditions in reserves across
Canada, Mr. Bell established the Canadian Native Arts Foundation
to provide educational opportunities to Aboriginal youth pursuing
training in the arts. Through a series of high-profile gala events,
Mr. Bell has built what is now the National Aboriginal Achievement
Foundation,Canada’s premiere charity providing financial
support to Aboriginal youth pursuing educational development in
business, science, health, medicine, and the performing and visual
arts. In 1988 Mr. pproduced, co-composed and directed the first-ever
full scale Aboriginal dance production, In The Land Of Spirits,
which premiered at the National Arts Centre. The success of the
production led to its national tour in 1992 achieving favourable
reviews and enough earnings to establish an endowment fund to
fuel further scholarships to Aboriginal youth. In 1993, Mr. Bell
established the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, an awards
system celebrating career achievement in the Aboriginal community.
The National Aboriginal Achievement Awards have become the largest
Aboriginal cultural event in Canada and a Canadian institution.
Each year, the Awards culminate in a CBC special network telecast.
The Foundation has awarded more than $20 million in scholarships
to students and operates Blueprint For The Future, a national
series of career fairs promoting career awareness for Aboriginal
youth. Bell is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has received
the Order of Ontario. He has received five honorary doctorates
in recognition of his work. In 1998, he was the sole recipient
of the prestigious Royal Bank Award for Canadian Achievement,
which carried a cash award of $250,000. Mr. Bell has served on
the boards of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canada
Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the Aboriginal Human Resource
Development Council of Canada, and the Canadian Health Institute
for Health Research. In 2005, Mr. Bell was appointed one of five
Canadian advisors to His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales,
and has consulted with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation
through his management company, Ariontha Inc. Mr. Bell is currently
the President & CEO of Bell & Bernard Limited, a firm
that specializes in First Nations-Corporate-Government Relations.