STORYHIVE supports documentary of leader George Manuel by filmmaker grandson

Monday, July 17th, 2023 12:13pm


Image Caption

George Manuel at left with filmmaker grandson Esteban Manuel.
By Crystal St.Pierre
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Esteban Manuel, an Indigenous Vancouver content creator, is one of 80 recipients to each receive $20,000 in production funding as part of TELUS STORYHIVE’s Anniversary Documentary Edition.

Manuel received the grant for a documentary that will highlight his influential grandfather’s leadership, first in British Columbia, then expanding to nationwide renown and around the globe.

“My documentary is going to essentially be about my grandfather, George Manuel, who was a great Indigenous leader and my journey of exploring him a little bit, and the influence he's had on me even though I never met him, and how a lot of his values transferred over to me,” said Esteban. It will be called My Grandfather & Me.  

Esteban had an interest in movies at a very young age and decided to follow his dreams and pursue a career in the industry. He attended school at Capilano University in Vancouver in the Indigenous film program.

He has been working in the industry and has written and directed several short films, some of which have been screened at film festivals.

However, this particular documentary has a deep connection.

George Manuel (Secwépemc) was the national chief of the National Indian Brotherhood, the precursor to the Assembly of First Nations, from 1970 to 1976. He was the first president for the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. He was founder of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.

George spearheaded a movement called the Constitution Express, which lobbied for the inclusion of Indigenous rights in Canada’s Constitution.

His efforts led to the recognition and affirmation of existing Indigenous and treaty rights in the Constitution Act, 1982.

George Manuel’s work was honoured with a stamp in June as part of Canada Post’s Indigenous Leaders series.

George passed away in 1989 before Esteban had a chance to meet him, but Esteban said his grandfather continues to be a role model for the 32 year old today.

Esteban said his mother has many photos and speeches of his grandfather that he has listened to and has really developed an understanding of the strength George Manuel had. Esteban is excited to share that journey with others through the production of the documentary.

“It’s going be kind of exploring that a little bit and then talking about how it, essentially, influenced me because even in the film industry there's been a few jobs that I had to turn down because my values didn't really align with what they were trying to do or where they got their money from. And so it's going to explore a little bit of that,” he said.

George was also very interested in Indigenous people from around the world and would travel to other countries to learn about their struggles.

“You know he wanted to learn from other people on like the genocide and atrocities that were committed against people to get a better sense of it,” Esteban said.

In total, the documentary is expected to be between 15 and 20 minutes long.

Esteban’s “really exploring what, even though he’s never met his grandfather, his values were and what that means to him. Now he leads his own life… So it was a very personal story and a very important story as well,” said STORYHIVE program manager Ryan Logan. “His project is a really great example of the stories that we want to help amplify.”

In the past, the STORYHIVE selection committee chose 40 recipients throughout British Columbia and Alberta each year to receive grants. This year STORYHIVE is celebrating 10 years since it launched by doubling that number for the Anniversary Documentary Edition.

“There’s a lot of upcoming films, a lot of great projects coming up and we’re happy to have this as one of them,” Logan added.

The documentaries, short films and web series aired on STORYHIVE explore many different cultures and social groups, including the Black Creators Edition, Local Heroes Documentary Edition, Indigenous Storyteller Edition, Honouring Asian Heritage, and Youth Community and Community Stories.

“We are focused on our ongoing mission to support underrepresented communities, helping empower the next generation of content creators and storytellers,” it states on the STORYHIVE website.

All of STORYHIVE’s content creators’ productions are available on Telus Optik TV on channel 9 and this year’s creators’ documentaries will begin airing in early 2025.

The films will also be available on the STORYHIVE YouTube channel.

For more information on STORYHIVE visit STORYHIVE Anniversary | TELUS.

Read our Footprints article on George Manuel here: George Manuel: Chief’s goal was to unite Indigenous people in fight for rights -