“If I had been required to choose between my faith and my career, I would have chosen my faith. ”
It never happened. And on January 11, Ginella Massa entered the CBC through the front door, in a meteoric rise. She became the host of Canada Tonight with Ginella Massa, a new daily public affairs program similar to 24-60 by Anne-Marie Dussault.
For a host of this type of show to wear a hijab on the CBC is unheard of in Canada.
Ginella Massa subscribes to the great premieres. In 2015, she became the first television journalist in North America to wear the veil. She was then working in Kitchener for CTV.
A year later she moved to City News in Toronto as a host this time. Here too, his appearance on the scene did not go unnoticed.
When I first started working in Toronto, I was shocked to see how the newsroom had nothing to do with the city I grew up in. People of diversity, you could only see them in the cafeteria.
34 years old and native of Panama, Mme Massa immigrated to Toronto as a child, with her single-parent mother.
Soon, her mother converted to Islam and young Ginella began to wear the veil while in elementary school.
“The veil is an extremely important part of my identity. I never thought of parting with it. ”
And this, even when we tried to make him understand, in college, that a hijab would prevent him from progressing in the profession, despite all his talent.
She knew full well it would be difficult. So she initially thought of going on the radio, “where [son] look would not bother ”. “But my mom encouraged me not to give up on my dream of watching television. “
She hears very well what is being said about her. That she was hired because of the image she projects, so the CBC can boast of having faces of diversity on screen.
“I have worked hard to get to where I am. All I have to say to the people making these comments is that I invite them to watch my show before judging. ”
But yes, hosting a national show of such magnitude, at prime time (at 8 p.m.), comes with particular pressure in his case. “People like me don’t usually get offered such positions. I have no room for error. ”
So far, the comments are good, she said. A few columnists have argued that a veiled woman has such a platform on the CBC, but there has not been an avalanche of hate emails, she adds.
Mme Massa points out that she can’t remember a single time her faith kept her from doing her job. She spoke on her show of Sex and the City, whose sequel will be without the Canadian actress Kim Cattrall, as she will speak to the Law on State Secularism (“Bill 21”), in Quebec.
Obviously, what she thinks is literally in the face and she knows intimately, she says, what people who may need to remove their religious symbols can feel.
But she doesn’t think it’s different from everything else. Despite the theory that the journalist is completely disembodied and perfectly objective, in real life, she recalls, everyone has their experiences, their opinions, their values and their identity.
“For example, reporters covering COVID-19 certainly have their take on restrictions, on containment, on vaccines and everything in between. That doesn’t stop them from doing their job and covering all angles of their subject. ”
The hijab therefore certainly comes with a particular coefficient of difficulty, “but all the same all the women are scrutinized on the screen. We smile too much, we don’t smile enough, we wear too much makeup, not enough makeup… We never get out of it. Several years ago, a viewer even complained that my manicure was not perfect and that if I wanted to be on screen, I had to see it! ”