The stories the media is missing: Five Ottawans have their say
On May 25, 2020, the world gasped as George Floyd struggled for air. His final words, “I can’t breathe,” sparked an urgent conversation about how racism and discrimination permeate so many facets of our lives. Here, in a four-part occasional series, we dive deep into the lack of diversity in key municipal institutions — including schools, health care, city hall and the media — and how we can do better.
Fifty years ago, the Great White North was extremely white. In 1971, those of British and other European descent made up more than 96 per cent of Canada’s population. The remainder, according to Statistics Canada, were “Indian” or Inuit, Asiatic, “Negro” or “Not stated.”
And then a funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century: Immigrants from all over the globe chose Canada as a place where they might pursue a good life.
In Ottawa alone, according to 2016 figures, 4.6 per cent of the population claimed aboriginal roots in 2016, and another 26.3 per cent indicated a non-white or non-European heritage.
Not all institutions, including this one, adapted quickly or enough. “I want to feel reflected in the news, like this is a community for me, this is a place where I can see myself,” says Nathan Hall, a Black Kanata resident and founder and CEO of Culture Check, a business that provides supports to address racial discrimination in the workplace. “But at no point would I ever turn to the Ottawa Citizen for connection and say, ’Oh, this is where I’m going to learn about my community and what’s happening and what’s going to be important to me.’”
As a step towards better reflecting the city we serve, we asked Hall and some others from Ottawa’s racialized communities to let us know what stories of theirs we, and the media at large, should be telling.