People Profiles

Tracey Friesen, MA, Graduate Liberal Studies

October 19, 2015
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Tracey Friesen is helping Canadian storytellers thrive—and helping create a better Canada in the process.

Friesen is the Director of Programming at Roundhouse Radio and the author of Story Money Impact: Funding Media for Social Change, which will be published in 2016 by Focal Press. She was an executive producer with the National Film Board (NFB) and was named the 2013 Woman of the Year Award by Women in Film + Television Vancouver. Friesen completed a Master’s of Liberal Studies in 2000 and an MBA at SFU in 2008.

Friesen's work focuses on finding new ways to support artists whose work seeks to positively influence society—a passion that was first ignited during her 12-year career with the NFB.

“Through the documentaries I worked on at the NFB I was able to see first-hand the power of stories to affect change. For example, one of the films I produced, Being Caribou, was used heavily by habitat preservation lobbyists. However, public resources are dwindling and I realized I could only support so many filmmakers in that model,” she says.

Friesen is helping create an alternative to that model through both her soon-to-be-released book, Story, Money, Impact and initiative by the same name. “My focus with these projects is to bring together storytellers, investors and activists to create a different form of mutually-beneficial financial agreements,” she says.

In addition, Friesen is also helping to create a new kind of storytelling platform through her role at Roundhouse Radio, a new low-power specialty radio station in Vancouver broadcasting at 98.3 FM. Although a a commercial radio station, the organization is unique as it has a social mission to connect city residents, break down the divides between them and in doing so create a stronger and more resilient city. 

“We want to create programming that focuses on local stories and gets neighbours talking to neighbours,” says Friesen.  

A leader in Canada's media industry, Friesen points to her SFU graduate school experience as essential for helping equip her with her own storytelling skills. 

“In my industry, we are always talking about stories and trying to boil them down into their most fundamental and universal parts. The Graduate Liberal Studies program gave me the tools to engage in those discussions and be able ask the important questions,” she says.

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