The Black Screen Office applauds the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage’s unanimous vote to include two amendments in Bill C-11 – the Online Streaming Act – around the provision of programming to Canadians – to specifically mention ‘Black’ alongside ‘racialized persons’. The BSO, however, now calls upon the Senate to similarly amend all other existing references to racialized persons and communities in the bill to “Black and racialized” to recognize the unique challenges and barriers to inclusion presented to many Black Canadians in the country’s media landscape.
The two adopted amendments to Bill C-11 were included in a package of seven amendments in a submission by the REMC, supported by the 18 organizations noted below. Joan Jenkinson, Executive Director of the Black Screen Office, one of the submission’s co-signers, elaborated on the need for the amendment in a presentation to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
“We request this amendment as recognition that there has historically been greater oppression of Black Canadians and greater barriers to inclusion than with other racialized Canadians. For example, in a 2019 Statistics Canada survey, 45% of Black Canadians expressed that they had experienced discrimination in the past five years, compared to 27% for other ‘visible minorities’,” Jenkinson stated. “[Black Canadians] consist of communities in Nova Scotia and Southern Ontario that are older than Canada, newer communities made up of people from the Caribbean, and more recent communities from Africa. With limited exceptions, the many stories of these various communities are not being told.”
It is anticipated that further amending Bill C-11 so that ‘Black’ is specifically listed will support the need to develop targeted strategies to dismantle anti-Black racism in the broadcasting system.
“The committee’s unanimous support for the two adopted amendments signifies that they understand that within the overall category of racialized persons, Canada’s Black communities have traditionally faced unique hurdles when it comes to the production and broadcasting of programs. However, we are disappointed that the committee did not amend all references to racialized communities to read ‘Black and racialized’,” says Lisa Valencia-Svensson, Managing Director of the Racial Equity Media Collective (REMC). “This could set up challenges to interpretation of the law in the future and does not capture the spirit and intent of this push for change.”
“The voting unity on these two amendments suggests the committee has a strong desire to redress the inequities that pervade the industry,” adds Jenkinson. “Naming Black communities specifically across the entire bill is critical to move that redress forward in a meaningful way, by establishing a benchmark for action and accountability in all the industry’s spheres.”
The BSO looks forward to the swift passage of Bill C-11 and to working with the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission towards greater representation and inclusion.
The Racial Equity Media Collective (REMC) Bill C-11 submission co-signers are: ADVANCE, Canada’s Black Music Business Collective, BIPOC TV & Film, Black Screen Office, Breakthroughs Film Festival, CaribbeanTales, Canadian Independent Screen Fund for BPOC Creators, Coalition M.É.D.I.A., Creatives Empowered, Documentary Organization of Canada, Independent Media Producers Association of Creative Talent (I.M.P.A.C.T.), Indigenous Screen Office, OYA Black Arts Coalition, POV, Racial Equity Screen Office, Reelworld Screen Institute Toronto Palestine Film Festival, Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival, and Women In View.
About Black Screen Office (BSO)
BSO’s goals are to make Canada’s screen industries’ practices and policies equitable and free of anti-Black racism; to work collaboratively with decision-makers to develop tools and strategies that enable system-level engagement and accountability; and to empower Black Canadians working within the screen industries to thrive and share their stories. Visit www.bso-ben.ca.
For more information:
Joan Jenkinson | Black Screen Office | firstname.lastname@example.org