CBC/Radio-Canada launches new effort to improve representation of Indigenous peoples | CBC News

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

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

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

Doane says the goal of is to build on CBC/Radio-Canada’s connection with First Nations, Inuit and Métis, which he said goes back to the launch of CBC North’s radio service in 1958.

“So although we’re launching our first-ever strategy today, we’re building on a legacy of decades of programs and services,” he said. 

Doane wouldn’t comment on the broadcaster’s financial commitment to the strategy, or whether it was affected by recent budget constraints. CBC/Radio-Canada said late last year it will cut some 10 per cent of its workforce because of a potential $125 million budget shortfall. Those layoffs are underway.

“What I can say is that we’re committed to better reflecting and serving First Nations, Inuit and Metis, no matter what challenges we’re facing,” he said.

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

CBC/Radio-Canada has faced criticism for under-representing Indigenous voices in the past, including in June 2020 when Christine Genier, then-host of CBC’s Yukon Morning radio show, resigned in protest, saying 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, in general, First Nations stories “have been told and retold repeatedly without our consent, using a language that actively displaces First Nations from claiming 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, the minister of agriculture with the Manitoba Métis Federation, said it’s about time the diverse Indigenous communities have “real and true partners” who work with them to share their stories, so that they may be included and remembered.

“Our children need to see themselves represented on television, both in journalistic roles and in the entertainment and educational content — and yes, we need to see ourselves represented in senior leadership roles in CBC,” he said at the strategy’s announcement.

A man gesttures while speaking in a conference room. He is holding a smartphone, standing in front of a whiteboard.
Robert Doane is the strategy’s new senior director. Previously, he was the national public broadcaster’s Indigenous adviser. (Submitted by Robert Doane)

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

After that, they’ll set “meaningful, realistic targets that we can validate each year,” he said in an email, aiming to create opportunities for all First Nation, Inuit and Métis.

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

Changes may not be seen overnight, Doane said. But eventually, it’s hoped “listeners will see more Indigenous content that is more representative of First Nations, Inuit and Métis realities, in all their diversity,” he said in his statement. 

“It’s the beginning of a national commitment — a new journey of understanding to help clear a path for more First Nations, Inuit and Métis to connect and work with us, and better reflect, respect and amplify diverse Indigenous perspectives across 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.

“It is a moment of enormous pride for all of us at the public broadcaster, and I truly hope that it will pave the way to strengthening relationships while we walk together,” she said. 

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



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