Representing Race in the Public Sphere – Contrasting the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) with research presented via Edmonton Public Library Theatre
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The purpose of this paper is to explore the ways in which “race” or ethnicity has been, and can be, represented in Canada and to make a number of other observations that challenge the “Central/Eastern” representation of the formation of “two-nations” Canada. Therefore this is not just a critique of how the CBC ignored ethnicity in a major piece of “public pedagogy” but a lament for a missed opportunity to present the multi-ethnic, multicultural origins of Canadian experience – a missed opportunity which is sadly repeated almost daily. Finally, we will discuss how community engagement as “public pedagogy” can be a major component of university research. The paper discusses the failure of the CBC to use a black actor to portray Sir James Douglas (known as a “Scotch-West Indian”) and sets this failure within the history of racialization in Canada. The paper also discusses “race” theory, identity, and culture together with the social, civil and educational intersections that can be explored through research and public representation – all of which can help illuminate issues of hybridity and complexity when considering community and nation-building. The latter section of the paper explores how educators can engage community in developing a play about their experience in coming to Canada, forming a community, and becoming Canadians of Caribbean descent (African Canadians). It also records the success of the 3 performances of the play before a total audience of 400 – a local example of an alternative public pedagogy portraying race and representation.