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John Ware Reclaimed Image

After the American Civil War, John Ware was among the thousands of free men who came to Canada to build a new life. Well known to Albertans as a skilled Black rancher of impeccable character, he even appeared on a national stamp, though the rest of Canada may be hard-pressed to recognize him. Writer-director Cheryl Foggo affectionately refocuses our attention toward the overlooked details of Ware’s life, fleshing out his prominent legacy as a Black pioneer.

Foggo, also a successful novelist and playwright, initially developed and presented Ware’s life as a stage play in 2012, entitled John Ware Re-Imagined. Now, she digs deeper into scant archives, traces Indigenous oral history and even excavates the land he owned to turn up physical clues about who Ware really was. Combining dramatic recreations (including an appearance by country music star Corb Lund) with investigative research, Foggo centers this under-examined piece of Black history as Canadian history, and appropriately exacts the record.


Includes an interview with Director: Cheryl Foggo

Director Icon Director
Cheryl Foggo
Executive Producer David Christensen
Producer Bonnie Thompson, David Christensen
Screenwriter Cheryl Foggo
Cinematographer Douglas Munro
Editor Margot McMaster
Music Miranda Martini, Corb Lund, Alec Harrison
Production Company National Film Board of Canada
Source National Film Board of Canada
Canada 2020 71 min. English Trailer |
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Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Foggo, Cheryl headshot


Cheryl Foggo is an award-winning author, playwright, and filmmaker whose work over the last 30 years has focused on the lives of Western Canadians of African descent. She directed the short Kicking Up a Fuss: The Charles Daniels Story and wrote and directed the documentary The Journey of Lesra Martin for the NFB. Her books include Pourin’ Down Rain; the young adult novels One Thing That’s True and I Have Been in Danger; and a children’s picture book, Dear Baobab.

The Journey of Lesra Martin (2002)

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