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CBC launches Black on the Prairies, exploring the history and present lives of Black people on the prairies


Black on the Prairies is a new multiplatform project led by CBC Saskatoon journalist Omayra Issa, and CBC radio host Ify Chiwetelu. Through radio, television, and online formats, Black on the Prairies explores the history and present lives of Black people on the Prairies through their triumphs, challenges, and places their contributions at the very center of the Prairie narrative as part of the Canadian story.

“The stories of Black life on the Prairies are an indelible part of Canada’s history. This project celebrates the legacy of over 200 years of recorded Black presence on the Prairies, and looks to the future of the fastest growing Black population in the country. It is important storytelling on the Prairies and in Canada,” Omayra Issa and Ify Chiwetelu said.

The earliest arrivals sought opportunities and built communities, while challenging racism and discrimination, something that remains to this date. Today, Black people continue to help shape Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba from the largest cities to the smallest rural towns.

To launch Black on the Prairies, CBC will host a virtual celebratory launch on April 26, 2021 and a CBC Asks community conversation on April 29, 2021. The virtual celebration hosted by Ismaila Alfa of CBC Toronto’s "Metro Morning’’ will feature a conversation with the producers of Black on the Prairies, Ify Chiwetelu and Omayra Issa, musical performances by multi-platinum recording artist Ruth B., hip-hop band Super Duty Tough Work, and Juno nominated singer K-Anthony, and more. The CBC Asks event will explore “Where Have We Been?” and “Where Are We Going?”.

As Canada’s national public broadcaster, CBC has a long-standing commitment to develop and nurture world-class Canadian documentaries and bring them to audiences in Canada and the world, including a rich legacy of the history of Canada. The project will explore the following themes: migration, work, Black and Indigenous relations, politics and resistance, and the future. Other groundbreaking CBC historical series and anthologies over the years including Canada: A People’s History, Canada: The Story of Us, Beyond 94 – Truth And Reconciliation In Canada, Being Black in Canada, and this year’s 21 Black Futures, an anthology of 21 filmed monodramas commissioned from 21 multigenerational Black playwrights across the country, directed by 21 Black directors and performed by 21 Black actors.


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Hashtag: #BlackOnThePrairies

About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster. Through our mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain, we play a central role in strengthening Canadian culture. As Canada’s trusted news source, we offer a uniquely Canadian perspective on news, current affairs and world affairs. Our distinctively homegrown entertainment programming draws audiences from across the country. Deeply rooted in communities, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We also deliver content in Spanish, Arabic and Chinese, as well as both official languages, through Radio Canada International (RCI). We are leading the transformation to meet the needs of Canadians in a digital world.

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