Christine Genier, the host of CBC’s Yukon Morning show, resigned from her position last week after speaking on-air about the suppression of Black and Indigenous voices at the public broadcaster.
“To be on Tagish Chän territory, Wolf Clan territory, and not to be able to speak the truth is difficult,” Genier, a Ta’an Kwäch’än citizen, said shortly after 8:20 a.m. on June 8.
“It contradicts and conflicts with the journalistic standards and practices of the CBC. This is painful and makes the job difficult and makes it ineffective.”
“This is a dangerous thing that I am doing career-wise and job-wise and I know it — and I make this choice,” she said later on, after stating her name, clan, nations and matriarchs in Southern Tutchone.
“Everything needs to change now. We are out of time.”
In a Facebook note posted June 12, Genier wrote that she resigned about 15 minutes after making her statement on-air.
CBC “immediately” reached out to her, she wrote, “and I have since been in conversation with a couple of levels of management.”
Genier referred the News to the Facebook note, as well as another one she posted June 16, when reached for comment.
“Throughout this week, I unpacked the unconscious and conscious biases and systemic racism of the mainstream media in Canada, and my experience within the CBC, as well as the media’s complicit nature in the continued oppression of Black and Indigenous Voices our country,” the June 12 note reads in part. “I spoke about the Journalistic Standards and Practices, how written through the colonial lens, perpetuates the systemic racism and blocks our ability to bring the stories and language and culture to the programming.”
In the June 16 note, Genier wrote that she was “really very tired today.”
“I have been working long days having important conversations long overdue,” she said.
While Genier’s statement was posted to the news section of the CBC’s website on June 15, no clips from June 8 have been added to Yukon Morning’s “on demand” page, which features 211 clips dating back to Oct. 29, 2019 as well as clips from June 9 to 12.
CBC North managing director Janice Stein and managing editor Mervin Brass directed the News’ requests for comment to CBC communications staff.
In an interview June 15, Chuck Thompson, CBC’s head of public affairs, said the broadcaster was “sorry to see (Genier) go because she’s an important voice, a wonderful storyteller.”
“I’ll just leave it this way, we’ve left the door open and we very much want to continue the conversation,” he said.
Thompson said the CBC has already started “looking” at its journalistic standards and practices “to ensure there is clarity as to how those principles are interpreted,” and will be “talking to a range of staff from across the country within news, current affairs and local services.”
He noted that the CBC is already holding weekly town-hall calls with employees that he described as an “open forum,” where employees can ask questions of executives. The broadcaster also has objectives to hire, retain and promote more Indigenous people, visible minorities and people with disabilities.
“I can tell you that, CBC is committed to reflecting the diversity of this country, both in our stories and in our workforce, and while we are making progress and have made progress, we absolutely recognize that much more needs to be done, and especially at senior levels of the organization,” he said.
Thompson did not directly answer questions about whether the CBC believes it has a problem with systemic racism.
“Well, I think if our employees feel that way, then we have to address that, and if they feel that, if that’s what they’re thinking, then we have to take responsibility for that, we have to be accountable for that and we have to act on that,” he said.
“… We need to look in the mirror and then address whatever needs to be addressed and make sure we can work on it — address it as quickly as possible but not so quickly that we get it wrong.”
In her June 12 note, Genier wrote that she believed the CBC was “one of our most important institutions.”
“That is why I am doing this. I wanted to be a part of the change from the inside as well,” she wrote.
“I’ve heard many times over the analogy that it takes a long time to steer a ship. I understand that. I’m telling you… it is the Titanic, and I’m the guy in the crow’s nest screaming ‘ICEBERG STRAIGHT AHEAD!’”
Contact Jackie Hong at email@example.com