Virginia Barter Métis Filmmaker & Television Producer

What’s New


Updates . . . for 2015

Planet in Focus – Eco Film Lab – Toronto

This spring I have been doing something new – facilitating film workshops for kids.  If you’re a teacher who is interested in having your class make an environmental film, but are not sure how to do it, Planet in Focus Film Festival will help.  They will send a  filmmaker out to your school to do a workshop for FREE!  There are still some spots available for this May and June.
The workshop would be 1 to 2 hours at your school. The focus would be using film as a voice for environmental themes and how students can access these tools to create awareness on issues that concern them and their communities. The workshop would include a video presentation component as well as interaction and discussion between the filmmaker and the students addressing how they can make their own films.  Short films submitted for the United Nations World Environmental Day Short Film competition (deadline May 1) may be chosen for screening at the Art Gallery of Ontario on June 4th.
Missed the deadline for the UN World Environmental Day Short Film submissions? – No time to make a film?  That’s okay.  If you just want to have a filmmaker come in and talk about filmmaking, there are still some spots left for May and June.   That will help you get ready for next year! Contact Jordana Aarons at Planet in Focus at 416.531.1769 to make a booking.  For more information on how the program works, visit their website at:

Come out to the family day event at the McMichael June 21st, 2015

Once again I”ll be doing a Metis cultural workshop.  Come dance, hear stories, do some “fur trading”.

See McMichael website for details.

McMichael Arts Gallery



I am please to announce that once again I have been selected for the Ontario Arts Council “Arts in Education” - 2014-15 Aboriginal Artist Roster 

As a recipient of this grant, my artist fees are subsidized for participating schools. So if you are a teacher, check out my Artist in the Schools page to find out more details.

Looking forward to working with the TDSB Aboriginal Education Centre for their artist in the schools initiatives for the new NAC 10 arts curriculum for grade 9s.
Working on a new documentary “People of the Buffalo”.
Hope to enter it in the ImagineNative Film Festival this year.
I had a wonderful time speaking at  the “Marching Through Time” History Symposium at the London Central Library. Mar. 29th.

Virginia Barter (right) Re-enactor and costume designer Peter Twist and his wife Myoko (left) at the symposium costume ball, London Armouries Hotel, March 29, 2014.

My presentation was titled. “The Pemmican Files: War and Politics of Food in 1812.”

In 1812, the existence of the Northwest Company was under threat, not only by American aggressions on the Upper Great Lakes, but also by the rival Hudson’s Bay Company in Red River.  The arrival of the Selkirk Settlers, and the subsequent “Pemmican Proclamation,” restricted food supplies for the NWC, sparking a violent struggle that would determine control of the fur trade, and the future of Canada.

It was a very popular session. If you are interested in booking me to give this talk, please contact me.


Had a great time  as behind-the-scenes videographer at the ImagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival, October 16-20, 2013.  Five days of fabulous films from indigenous filmmakers from around the world. Great industry sessions and arts events.

Watch “Katie Chats” interview with Virginia Barter at the ImagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival 2013.


Battle of the Thames Historic re-enactment Photo: VBarter

This re-enactment of the historic Battle of the Thames. took place on October 5th, 2013 in Thamesville, Ontario, on the actual battlefield where Tecumseh was killed, 200 years ago in October 1813.  (Photo: VBarter)


Congratulations to all the historic 1812 re-enactment groups (American and Canadian) who came together for this great honouring of the Battle of the Thames. It was an amazing event. Thousands attended the public day on Sat. Oct 5, and an astounding number of students (100 bus loads) about 4,000 attended the education on Friday.


Corps des Voyageurs / Soldiers in Capotes  - Fort York Historic Site – Indigenous Arts Festival


Music composed and performed by the Métis Fiddler Quartet  – script written by Virginia Barter
World Premiere
Friday, June 21, 2013    7:15 PM
Saturday, June 22, 2013   4:00 PM
In 1812, the North West Company had a great deal at stake, with hostilities looming between Britain and the United States. Mackinac Island, the American island fortress guarding the entrance from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan, was the key to controlling the upper Great Lakes country. With the support of William McGillivray, governor of the North West company, the Corps de Voyageurs was created. Many Métis men were enlisted, and fought in decisive battles to capture and defend this vital strategic outpost. In General Isaac Brock’s own words, “Unless Detroit and Machilimakinac be both in our possession at the beginning of hostilities, not only Amherstburg, but mostly probably the whole country must be evacuated as far as Kingston”.
Corps de Voyageurs / Soldiers in Capotes recounts this intriguing history through Virginia Barter’s original script performed by actor John Huston (Fri.), and Zak Nesbitt (Sat.)  set to live original music composed and performed by the Métis Fiddler Quartet.

More dates coming . . . . . yes there is a plan to take it to schools and more public events.


More about the Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York National Historic Site, Toronto

Thurs. to Sat. June 20 to 22, 2013.
Fort York’s 1812 Bicentennial celebration continues with the Aboriginal Festival at Fort York. This three-day festival opens Thursday evening, June 20, with the book launch of Mississauga Portraits by renowned historian Don Smith of the University of Calgary.
Sunset on June 20 brings the world premiere of Kahá:wi Dance Theatre’s 1812 Bicentennial commission The Honouring on the grounds of Fort York, directed by award winning choreographer Santee Smith.
June 21 and 22 will feature repeat sunset performances of The Honouring plus the world premier of The Road by the Centre for Indigenous Theatre., new work by the Métis Fiddler Quartet, Eddy Robinson’s traditional music and dance ensemble Morningstar River, and special educational programs by the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation to mark National Aboriginal Day on June 21.
Free admission to all Aboriginal Festival events – Indigenous Arts Festival
Note to my friends . . . . The name of the piece by the Métis Fiddler Quartet is titled “Corps de Voyageurs: Soldiers in Capotes”.  I wrote the script that will be performed by actors John Huston (Fri.) and Douglas Hicton (Sat.)  I’ll be giving a short intro to the piece and after the performance there will be a short Q & A.   Here’s the description. (Performance is about half an hour) :


Artist in the Schools Program -

  • My OAC school subsidy is now finished for this year.  Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for provding the opportunity to work in schools and to create some very special film and art  projects.  Lots of great fun teaching Métis dance and spoons to the kids!   I am still available to do workshops next year.   Call me about bookings for this fall.   I will continue to do the dance and spoon workshops as a major part of my artist in the schools programs.  (Very popular!) Call me for bookings at 416-421-5344. 

  • Saturday Oct. 20th, 2012 at Fort York  The Pemmican Files:  War and Politics of Food in 1812″  – This is the title of my talk that I will be giving  as part of the “Best before 182: Food Symposium”.  I have been busy this week preparing pemmican samples for the participants.  My pemmican story has an interesting connection to the war of 1812 and is particularly significant in our Spencer family history.  The HBC and NWC were two rival fur trade companies who fought fiercely over control of the Red River territory – the source of the buffalo (bison) herds and hence the vast amounts of  pemmican that were produced from the dried meat and fat. This “fast food” of the fur trade  was  essential for the fast mobility and sustenance of the NWC fur brigades and their outposts. 

  • Day 1 of The Pemmican Files – Wed. Oct. 17th – Here are some pictures we took during our pemmican session today.
    1. We cut the bison meat up and its drying right now in the oven at Fort York. (approx. 3 1/4 pounds.)
    2. We have a lovely supply of bear fat, which I also cleaned and cut up into pieces for tomorrow’s rendering. (In the fridge at the FY.)
    3. The meat should be ready tomorrow morning for pounding.  (The estimated time for this is 12 hours, but with today’s humidity, it might take longer. We started drying around 3:00 PM today.)
    4. We also boiled some beef bones – split down the middle by the butcher – to render the marrow. This is now cooling in the refrigerator so tomorrow we can take the fat off and melt it down again.
    5. We also have a small piece of good bison fat that I trimmed off the meat.  We will also render this tomorrow.
    6. We were not sure if we could get the bear fat in time, so we also bought pre-rendered duck fat which is in the freezer.
    It will be interesting to have the three fats to compare the flavours, plus the tallow from the marrow. Mmmmm…..
    Check in  tomorrow morning for  Day 2 of the “Pemmican Files”.
    March/ April 2012,
  • I enjoyed an amazing two weeks working with students at  Kasabonika Lake First Nation reserve in Northern Ontario this past spring.  This is a fly-in community several hours north of Thunder Bay.  Deep in the heart of magnificent Boreal forest and lake country, it is one of the furthest most northern Oji-Cree communities before reaching Hudson Bay.  I started working specifically with the highschools students, but soon found that all the classes were anxious to have me in their classrooms.  There is no formal music program in the school, so it was a welcome treat for them to have me share my knowledge and videos on traditonal Metis culture and dance, and to get the kids dancing and playing spoons!  What a fun experience! 
  • The high school kids had their own special challenges, but by the end of the two weeks, I had them researching media projects on the internet and creating their own visual art projects to raise awareness of issues of development and conservation in the north and the role they can play in determining their future.  
  • Most of all I was happy to be able to share my stories of my own family’s experiences in the north. 
  • When the school contacted me initially, I was very excited about the prospect of going to this remote reserve.  I had always thought that if there was some way I could show my Urban Aboriginal series to kids in the north, then maybe I could make a difference. By showing them the success stories of Aboriginal people in Toronto,  they can start to envision what life could be like for themselves in the city.    Many of these young people have to leave their communities to go to high school, but then sadly find themselves at a loss to fit in.   They don’t have the family and social support they need at that age and they end up falling through the cracks of the system.  When they fail to succeed, they often turn to alcohol and drugs, and too many tragically take their own lives.

  • I am happy to speak on this issue. I gained a lot of insight and knowledge through my experiences in Kasabonika.   Many stories to share!

URBAN ABORIGINAL 2011-12 season series just finished summer re-runs on Rogers TV Toronto (Channels 10/63 Toronto / Scarborough)  

Have fun exploring my website.  You can see videos and lots of photos throughout the site, and on the home page.  Click and scroll on the slide carousel.  I am adding more daily.  I do give public presentations and school presentations using the series. So contact me to arrange a presentation, workshop or talk. 

If you have any problems navigating the site, let me know.  

NOTE: My old site expires on June 30th, 2012.