“We fully recognize the first two episodes of this series have yielded criticisms from different voices and we are sensitive to what we are hearing,” said Emma Bédard April 6. “Whenever you recount a country's history, there will inevitably be citizens, historians, and politicians who will have different points of view.”
In an email to TC Media she said the CBC recognizes that not everyone will agree with every perspective presented, but the intention was never to offend anyone or any group -- or diminish the importance of any of the stories that were not ultimately included.
“In the telling of the 50 biographical stories in this docu-drama, thousands of difficult editorial decisions were made as to what to include,” Bédard said. “The focus was deliberately placed on stories that haven't often been told before or that can be told from a new perspective. Indigenous stories and female-led ones, with prominent Canadian artists, architects, business leaders and athletes speaking about what it means to be Canadian.”
Letter To CBC
Bédard was responding to TC Media’s request for reaction to an April 2 letter from Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, West Nova MP Colin Fraser, Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski, and Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald. The four signed the letter to CBC president Hubert Lacroix asking for a prequel to the series and an apology to Nova Scotians for the series claiming that Quebec was the first permanent European settlement in what is now Canada – and leaving out 412 years of Acadian and Mi’kmaq history. They claim Port-Royal in Nova Scotia was the first permanent European settlement by three years.
The perceived snub to Atlantic Canada by CBC sparked a national debate started by a Facebook post by MacDonald.
“We are listening to those who have already expressed concerns about the series and will continue listening to those who have yet to voice their concerns,” said Bédard. “Some of this feedback will be incorporated into any educational material that will become available after the series airs.”
She said the CBC is committed to connecting Canadians to their country and to their history and to do that, is experimenting with different show formats.
“I think it’s fair to say the format of this series has been misunderstood; it is not a definitive or linear history of Canada,” she said, also noting other countries have also used the format and they too experienced widespread debate on certain events.
She said ‘Canada: The Story of Us’ is not a remake of ‘Canada: A People’s History’ – recently made available online, and to which CBC is adding two new episodes later this Spring.
“What’s more, this series is only one in CBC/Radio-Canada’s extensive programming line up for Canada 150,” Bédard said. “Together with CBC’s robust online library of historical content and new initiatives like What’s your story? we hope Canadians will learn more about our past, celebrate the present and help shape the vision for Canada’s future.”