On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Black Life Impact Foundation revealed the major components and partners of its ground-breaking education and impact campaign to accompany the documentary series Black Life: Untold Stories.
Led by author, activist, and Black Life co-executive producer Sandy Hudson, the campaign includes a comprehensive, bilingual curriculum; an experiential digital museum; and cross-country public and workplace engagement screenings and events realized with key community partners and stakeholders. And it’s all designed to deepen public understanding of Canada’s Black history.
“The documentary being created is called Black Life: Untold Stories, which will air in fall of 2023 on CBC. And those of us who are on the production team were thinking, look, this documentary has to live beyond the air. It has to have more impact than that,” Hudson says. “And so we came up with this impact and engagement campaign. And we have incorporated at a not-for-profit to carry out its mission. And that mission is to use the documentary to deepen the education of folks across Canada. And the knowledge about Black history in Canada and the untold stories of Blackness in Canada.”
Others on the team include a number of executive producers including the Emmy-award winning Leslie Norville; Toronto native and former NHL star P.K. Subban, Miranda de Pencier, and Nelson George. Hudson also serves as co-executive producer.
Consulting producers are the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Shadrach Kabango, Dr. Rinaldo Walcott, and Ravyn Wngz. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Entertainment, Factual, & Sports; Jennifer Dettman is Executive Director, Unscripted Content; Sandra Kleinfeld is Senior Director, Documentary; and Michelle McCree is Executive in Charge of Production, CBC Docs and The Passionate Eye.
The eight-part documentary series premiering this fall on CBC and CBC Gem is described as exploring a rich history of Black experiences in Canada and showcases complex, dynamic stories of struggle and triumph. The series’ Black creative team celebrates the contributions of Black Canadians while presenting an unflinching examination of our collective past.
The series, the way that it has been conceived is so that people will have access to hearing from as many Black people across Canada as possible,” Hudson explains. “So you’re gonna see a number of really incredible people featured in the documentary. And in addition, each episode has a different Black creative team working on it. So it’s really going to be able to showcase the artistry and talent of so many Black filmmakers, which is really exciting.”
Hudson says, she things people will be surprised to understand just how integral Black people were to the creation of Canada as it exists today.
“I hope that’s something that people take away from this documentary. It’s not just showing times of tragedy, it’s also showing the experiences and contributions and successes of some of our most talented artists and politicians and so on,” Hudson adds. “And so it’s really giving a bit of a holistic approach to saying, look, Black people were integral to the creation of Canada, from from the very beginning have been integral to the history of this place, and have existed across the landscape from the very beginning not just in Toronto, and not just post 1960. It’s been throughout.”
Other campaign activities including a digital museum and interactive experience, live events across the country, and curriculum and teacher training.
It’s a massive undertaking, one in which Hudson, also a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Canada and a published author, has pushed to encompass so many different aspects.
“I couldn’t be more honoured to have been asked to work on this documentary, and to been given this opportunity. I am very much obsessed with education. And I have engaged myself in teaching in some ways, whether that be workshops or lectures about Black history in Canada,” she says. “And, you know, teachers are often asking, especially around Black History Month for resources regarding Black history in Canada, and so it feels really great to be contributing to something that can have really deep impact for kids and for adults, and just shift the way that people think about history in Canada. I couldn’t be more honoured.”