Canadian News

CBC host cancels herself after complaining about lack of diversity

Christine Genier, host of Yukon Morning, a radio show that airs in Whitehorse, resigned after making comments regarding a lack of Indigenous and Black voices.

Quinn Patrick Montreal, QC
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Christine Genier, host of Yukon Morning, a radio show that airs in Whitehorse for CBC, resigned last week after making comments on her show regarding a lack of Indigenous and black voices at CBC, according to the network.

At the end of her June 8 show, Genier said that the broadcaster's journalistic standards and practices (JSP) prevent her from being able to speak up on certain issues as an Indigenous woman.

CBC's JSP requires that CBC employees do not voice their own personal opinions regarding controversial subjects on air or on their social media accounts because they worry it might "undermine the credibility of CBC journalism and erode the trust of our audience." Genier cited this as the reason for her resignation in the final four-minutes of her last show.

Genier joined CBC Yukon as the host of the new program last October, now she is calling on the public broadcaster to change.

"Not to be able to speak the truth is difficult," said Genier. "It contradicts and conflicts with the journalistic standards and practices of the CBC. This is painful. It makes the job difficult and it makes it ineffective." Grenier said in calling for the CBC to change its journalistic standard practices.

"We get told that it takes time to move a ship ... but it is costing us bodies. And it's costing us lives."

Genier posted on her Facebook that she quit CBC fifteen minutes after she made her comments on air, writing that CBC managers contacted her as soon as her show was over.

"They all assured me that my words would not cause my dismissal (I had already submitted my resignation!)," wrote Genier.

Genier also wrote that the CBC's JSP helps to maintain systemic racism and "blocks our ability to bring the stories and language and culture to the programming."

Grenier recounts watching the same system force a young Indigenous reporter out of the newsroom in the Yukon. Grenier claims that incident occurred in December, but it was never addressed.

Genier is a citizen of the Táän Kwách'än Council and a woman of the Wolf Clan which came down from the Tagish Chän, coastal Tlingit, and European.

Chuck Thompson, head of public affairs for the public broadcaster, issued a written statement, "Christine is a powerful storyteller who helped us contribute to the conversation in Whitehorse. We thank Christine for her time with CBC Yukon; she will be missed," wrote Thompson.

"We are committed to change," wrote Brodie Fenlon, CBC's News editor-in-chief. Fenlon said the broadcaster is committed to changing the JSP so that it may better reflect contemporary Canada.

"But the overriding objective is that the inside of CBC News mirrors the makeup of the country we serve. Only then can our storytelling truly reflect the many interests, sensitivities, beliefs and viewpoints found in Canada."

Genier's resignation follows the suspension of CBC host Wendy Mesley after she used "a word that should never be used" during an internal meeting regarding how to cover a story about race.

Genier made several suggestions to the broadcaster about how they could remedy the situation such as hiring more Indigenous and black journalists as well as giving the public airtime to discuss CBC's responsibility regarding colonization.

Fenlon listed some of the measures CBC News, Current Affairs and Local Services are planning to implement in the wake of Genier's resignation. Under the new changes, one in two new hires in the department at all levels will come from underrepresented equity groups.

CBC will also enforce mandatory unconscious bias training for journalists and anyone who leads people.

Genier has asked those who are trying to contact her to instead take their concerns up with the public broadcaster directly.

"We are out of time," wrote Genier. "And that is why I am going to echo back to the CBC the words that they have been saying to me all week: YOU are a leader. YOU have such a strong voice. YOU are so very important to the conversation."

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