CBC/Radio-Canada launches new effort to improve representation of Indigenous people

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CBC/Radio-Canada unveiled a new three-year plan Monday to improve the employment and representation of Indigenous people, which includes the creation of a new Indigenous office to oversee those efforts.

The launch of the public broadcaster’s first national Indigenous strategy took place at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

“Our goal is to better reflect, respect and amplify diverse Indigenous perspectives within the public broadcaster,” Robert Doane, Gitxsan journalist and new senior director of strategy, said in a statement.

Doane says the goal is to strengthen CBC/Radio-Canada’s ties to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, which he says date back to the launch of CBC North’s radio service in 1958.

“While we are launching our first-ever strategy today, we are building on a decades-long legacy of programs and services,” he said.

Doane would not comment on the broadcaster’s financial commitment to the strategy, or whether it has been affected by recent budget constraints. CBC/Radio-Canada said late last year that it reduce by about 10 percent of its workforce due to a potential budget shortfall of $125 million. These layoffs are underway.

“What I can say is that we are committed to better reflecting and serving First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, regardless of the challenges we face,” he said.

WATCH | Launch of the CBC/Radio-Canada National Indigenous Strategy:

CBC/Radio-Canada has previously been criticized for underrepresenting Indigenous voices, notably in June 2020, when Christine Genier, then host of the CBC show Yukon Morning radio program, resigned in protestsaying the broadcaster’s journalistic standards and practices make it difficult for her to speak out as an Indigenous woman.

Cathy Merrick, the grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said that in general, First Nations stories “have been repeatedly told and retold without our consent, using language that actively inhibits First Nations to claim ownership of our lived experiences.”

It’s time for that to change, she said Monday. “Our people will be included – and we will tell our stories and we will tell the truth about our people.”

David Beaudin, Minister of Agriculture for the Manitoba Métis Federation, said it is time for diverse Indigenous communities to have “real, genuine partners” working with them to share their stories, so they can be included and remembered.

“Our children need to see themselves represented on television, both in journalistic roles and in entertainment and educational content — and yes, we need to see ourselves represented in senior management positions at CBC,” he said. declared when announcing the strategy.

A man gestures while speaking in a conference room.  He is holding a smartphone in front of a whiteboard.
Robert Doane is the new senior director of strategy. Previously, he was an Indigenous advisor to the national public broadcaster. (Submitted by Robert Doane)

According to CBC spokesperson Leon Mar, the strategy will begin by obtaining an accurate measurement of CBC/Radio-Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis workforce.

After that, they will set “meaningful and realistic goals that we can validate each year,” he said in an email, aimed at creating opportunities for all First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

The broadcaster will also commission a study of its past coverage to better understand its representation of these peoples.

Changes may not be visible overnight, Doane said. But ultimately, we hope that “listeners will see more indigenous content, more representative of the realities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, in all their diversity,” he said in his press release.

“This is the start of a national commitment — a new journey of understanding to help pave the way for more First Nations, Inuit and Métis people to connect and work with us, and better reflect, respect and amplify diverse Indigenous perspectives within the public broadcaster. ” he said.

Catherine Tait, president and CEO of the broadcaster, says the strategy provides a framework to amplify the voices of Indigenous communities and its employees.

“This is a moment of immense pride for all of us at the public broadcaster, and I sincerely hope that it will pave the way for strengthening relationships as we walk together,” she said.

An annual report will be released, with input from staff and viewers, to track CBC’s progress.

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