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The animated series Molly of Denali has won a George Foster Peabody Award.CBC

The made-in-Vancouver animated series Molly of Denali has been awarded a George Foster Peabody Award. Co-produced by Vancouver’s Atomic Cartoons and WGBH Boston for PBS KIDS and CBC Kids, the show is the first nationally distributed children’s series in the United States to feature an Indigenous lead character.

Named for the American businessman and philanthropist George Peabody and often compared to the Pulitzer Prize for literature, the annual Peabody Awards honour storytelling in television, radio and online media.

“We are deeply honoured to be included amongst such a high calibre of award recipients, all of whom are telling stories that celebrate and champion diversity," Jennifer Twiner McCarron, chief executive officer of Thunderbird Entertainment and Atomic Cartoons, said in a statement. “Nothing is more important at this time, and I could not be prouder of everyone involved in the creation and production of Molly of Denali.”

‘It’s about time’ for Indigenous culture on children’s TV

The show, which premiered on PBS last July and launched on CBC in September, revolves around the precocious Molly Mabray, who has cultural heritage from three Athabascan groups: the Gwich’in, Koyukon and Dena’inawho. The blueberry-loving Molly lives with her dog, Suki, in the Denali region of Alaska, where her parents run the local trading post.

"We’re trying to reflect a beautifully diverse country in everything we do,” CBC Kids’ senior director Marie McCann told The Globe and Mail in 2019. “I think it’s a beautiful feeling to see a world that’s a lot like your own world reflected back at you.”

Molly of Denali airs Wednesday and Saturday mornings on CBC, and is also available on the free CBC Gem streaming service. The show was the lone honouree in the Peabody’s Children’s and Youth Category.

Thirty awards in all were announced on Wednesday, with the PBS documentary series Frontline and the long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons earning the Peabody’s top honour, its institutional award.

Other winners include Hulu’s Ramy; HBO’s Succession, Chernobyl and Watchmen; Netflix’s Stranger Things and When They See Us; Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly; CNN’s Apollo 11; and the WYNC podcast Dolly Parton’s America.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s in-person Peabody Awards ceremony, originally scheduled to take place in Los Angeles on June 18, was called off.

With files from Marsha Lederman

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