Filmmaker celebrated in nationally televised Indspire Awards

- Tara Sharpe

Hager receiving 2019 Indspire Arts Award in February. (Image provided courtesy of Indspire Awards)

Métis filmmaker, writer and director Barbara Todd Hager is one of 12 recipients this year of a prestigious national award. Hager, UVic’s new Indigenous communications officer, received the 2019 Indspire Arts Award at a ceremony in Calgary in February.

The Indspire Awards will be broadcast across the country on Sunday, June 23 on CBC TV and APTN.

Focus on filmmaking and storytelling

Hager’s family traces its Métis ancestry to Red River, Fort Pitt and St. Paul des Métis settlements. When she was 13 years old, Hager read The Diary of Anne Frank and knew that she wanted to be a writer.

By age 18, she was writing features for the Nanaimo Daily Free Press while taking writing courses at Malaspina College. In 2002, she was hired to host a new Indigenous TV series on The New VI (now CTV Vancouver Island) called "The New Canoe." The arts and culture series ran for eight years and started Hager’s career as a documentary filmmaker and director.

In 1999, Hager launched Aarrow Productions, which is now one of Canada’s leading Indigenous-owned media companies. For the past 15 years, she has produced, directed and written more than 150 Indigenous documentaries for APTN, CTV, CBC and ZDF (Germany), including the Leo Award-winning docudrama series 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus.

She is also the author of two books, Honour Song and On Her Way: The Life and Music of Shania Twain, and has published in The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and Indian Artist.

Now a communications specialist in UVic’s Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement, Hager mentors young Indigenous filmmakers through the Telus Storyhive program.
Winning an Indspire Award made me realize that it’s not enough to reach your own personal career goals. You have to share your knowledge and skills with Indigenous youth who are pursuing post-secondary education and embarking on careers. -- Métis filmmaker, writer and director Barbara Todd Hager, also a UVic employee

Coming full circle

Hager is reflecting today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day and two days ahead of the televised Indspire Awards, about coming full circle: in 1994, she worked as the project coordinator for the very first awards, then called the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards.

Hager has also served as a director of numerous non-profit organizations and in senior project management and communications roles for municipal and provincial governments, including five years as the Aboriginal Liaison Officer at the Royal BC Museum and another five as an arts administrator for the City of New York.

She is currently on the board of the Victoria Film Festival and was the Indigenous film programmer for the 2019 festival.

She is also a former student of UVic’s cultural resource management program.

Indspire inspires achievement

Indspire is a national Indigenous registered charity that works to enrich Canada through Indigenous education and by inspiring achievement.

The awards were first created in 1993 in conjunction with the United Nation’s International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and have honoured more than 350 First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals so far.

Past recipients include Wanosts’a7 Lorna Williams, Lil’watul from Mount Currie, BC, a UVic professor emerita who was honoured in 2018 with an Indspire Award for her contributions to Indigenous education.

This year’s ceremony, which includes several music performances, will air this Sunday at 8 p.m. across Canada.

More on the Indspire Awards


In this story

Keywords: Indigenous, film, writing, award, art

People: Barbara Hager

Publication: The Ring

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