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1491 Writer/Director Receives 2019 Indspire Arts Award

Metis/Cree filmmaker Barbara Todd Hager, along with 11 other Indigenous achievers from throughout Canada, travelled to Calgary in February 2019 to receive Inspire Awards in front of an audience of 2,000 people. The event, which included several live music performances, was broadcast nationally on APTN and CBC on June 23, 2019. Previous recipients of the Arts award include Adam Beach, Corrine Hunt, Thomas King, Tantoo Cardinal, Art Thompson, Robert Davidson and Thompson Highway.

This was not the first time that Hager had been involved in this national award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit achievers. In 1994, she worked as the project coordinator for the very first awards, then called the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards. Twenty-five years later, life has come full circle for the Métis filmmaker, writer and director.

“When the first awards took place in 1994, it was a celebration of the United Nations Year of Indigenous Peoples. Everyone thought it would be a one time event, ” Hager recalls. “But it’s just kept going because the awards fulfill an important role in Indigenous communities in Canada – to honour and celebrate the achievements of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.”

For the past 15 years, Hager has been producing, directing and writing Indigenous documentaries for APTN, CTV, CBC and ZDF (Germany), including the Leo Award winning docu-drama series 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus. She serves on the board of the Victoria Film Festival, and was the Indigenous film programmer for the 2019 festival.

After working on the 1994 awards, Hager wrote a book that profiles 16 recipients of the awards. Honour Song (Raincoast Books, 1996), includes biographical essays that she wrote after interviewing such notable role models as Elijah Harper, Susan Aglukark, Graham Greene, Robert Davidson, Ted Nolan and Angela Chalmers.

Hager currently works for the University of Victoria as an Indigenous communications specialist, and mentors young Indigenous filmmakers through the Telus Storyhive program.

“Winning an Indspire Award made me realize that it’s not enough to to reach your own personal career goals,” Hager said. “You have to share your knowledge and skills with Indigenous youth who are pursuing post-secondary education and embarking on careers.”

Media Coverage – Victoria NewsUVIC News


May 2019 – 1491 won three Leo Awards (British Columbia’s annual TV and Movie awards) at ceremonies in Vancouver in June. Composer and musician Russell Wallace (Lil’wat) won for “Best Composition in a Documentary Series”. The series also won for Best Documentary Series (Barbara Hager, Pat Ferns, Desiree Single and Vanessa Loewen – Producers) and Best Screenwriting in a Documentary Series (Barbara Hager – Cree/Metis).


We are thrilled to announce that the 1491 series was nominated for six Leo Awards in British Columbia – Best Documentary Series, Best Direction (Lisa Jackson and Barbara Hager), Best Screenwriting (Barbara Hager), Best Cinematography (Bob Aschmann), Best Composition (Russell Wallace) and Best Editing (Tyler Gamsby and Michael Clark) in a documentary series.

Congratulations to Russell Wallace (Lil’wat) for his Leo Award at the ceremony on May 26th in Vancouver. The second Leo ceremony takes place on June 2.





If you haven’t already seen an episode of 1491, we have #1 ORIGINS on our Vimeo site. https://vimeo.com/246849321 Password is 1491. If you like this episode, consider buying a one-year membership to the 1491 Channel at www.1491tvseries.com/shop. The membership is $14.91 using the discount code “1491” at the checkout. Thanks!


BEFORE COLUMBUS: 1491 International Film Festival

     Between August 1 and October 11, 2018 we’re sponsoring the “Before Columbus: 1491 International Film Festival” with the goal of screening 1491’s episode one “Origins” in every country in the world, and in every state and province in North America. The festival will end the day before the 526th anniversary of Columbus arriving in the Americas (October 12, 1492).
     We will provide each community that takes part with a digital file of the 1491 “Origins” episode, a colour poster with your community’s screening details to print locally, a welcome video message from the 1491 director, a press release that you can send to your local media, and some door prizes to give away at the screening. We’ll also promote your screening through our social media. There is no fee to take part in the festival.
     Our goal is to share the message around that world that Indigenous people in the Americas have a rich and unique history that is largely unknown. By sharing our story with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities around the world, we believe this will lead to better understanding between cultures.
    You can pre-screen the “Origins” episode of 1491 on our Vimeo channel:
PW: 1491
If you’d like to be part of our 1491 film festival, please send us the following to 1491productions@gmail.com.
Sponsoring Organization:
Phone #:
Proposed Screening Location:
Name of the Indigenous Community in your region (if in North or South America):
Date of Screening (if known):
Screening Location (if known):
Screening Time (if known):
All the best,
Barbara Hager, Producer/Director


1491 Director/Writer Barbara Hager has been invited by the University of Victoria Anthropology Department to screen 1491 episode 108 (Continuance) at the David Lam Theatre on April 6 from 4-6 pm.

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