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Raymond Sheppard: Making room for African Canadians at the CBC

Journalists in the Radio-Canada/CBC newsroom in Montreal, Canada, ca. 1944. Photo Wikimedia

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – As a broadcast media leader CBC should be working in partnership with the African Canadian community in a sincere effort to develop the national public broadcaster in alignment with the CBC’s mission statement and core values. These core values include creativity, integrity, relevance and inclusiveness.

We are proud to work for CBC/Radio-Canada, and we take its role as a public institution seriously. As employees of Canada’s public broadcaster, we are guided and inspired by our corporate values. Those values are at the core of who we are and what we do. Together, we build a workplace where everyone can do their best work in serving the citizens of this country.”  

CBC, Our Values

However, the CBC’s value statement and core values do not appear to be in line with reality. African Canadians are seen, hardly ever heard and never valued.

African Canadians are not privy to the same opportunities and consideration afforded others. The passion and vision to do the right thing seems to be greatly lacking.

The executive team at the CBC should implement and value frequent interaction and collaboration with African Canadian communities, and Africans Canadians should have a seat at the table. This would open the way to build a solid rapport with African Canadians while demonstrating versatility and adaptability to positive change in the go forward. 

The CBC should give priority to African Canadians and First Nation peoples, their heritage, culture, lineage and their perspective. The question must be asked why any media entity in Canada would knowingly maintain barriers that prevent the full participation of African Canadians and First  Nations people while maintaining unearned privilege within.  
 
CBC management must strive to truly open their minds and awaken the true spirit of fair hiring, program production, presentation and innovative original works by African Canadians and First Nations people. 

It is simply not enough to have three programs on CBC once a year that have some African Canadian input.
 
This year of 2020, should be the year that CBC dismantles the old guard and truly embraces proactive positive change that solidly respects African Canadians and First Nations. 

Pandemic or the plan-demic of racism should not stop the need to do the right thing. Organizational and operational structures must be redesigned to reflect and endorse real diversity. CBC needs to commit to all voices of Canada, not just those with Eurocentric privilege. 

The CBC should truly stand up for what’s right, develop a passion for fairness and purpose and realize they are stronger with inclusion. 

CBC cannot be afraid of its own history, and therefore it must confront its injustices, failures, shortcoming and its biases. Building a better future requires reckoning with the past.

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