President’s Message – Black History Month

Graphic with text that reads "BLACK HISTORY MONTH" and ACTRA logo on the side

February celebrates Black History Month and honours the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians in our communities, in our unions, in our workplaces, and in Canada, while also looking towards how we can collectively right injustices and build a better future.

This month, we’d like to specifically call your attention to two recent articles in the winter issue of ACTRA Magazine, which highlight some of the incredible contributions Black ACTRA members are making within the Canadian film and television industry: The Porter Q&A with ACTRA members Dr. Rita Shelton Deverell and Djouliet Amara, where they share why this Manitoba-shot production is a revolutionary series as Canada’s first all-Black led and Black-run series portraying Canadian Black history.

And, The Truth Behind the Path: Paving the way for the next generation of BIPOC actors by ACTRA National’s DEIB Committee Chair Mariah Inger, where Mariah describes how she’s making sure there is a sea of emerging artists who will be ready and willing to continue to carry the torch.

ACTRA is also seeing to it that we work towards creating systemic change in our industry:

In ACTRA’s recent federal budget submission, we are calling on the Government to ensure that all public and public-private funding programs for the film, television and digital media industry must be contingent on the achievement of appropriate targets and quotas to ensure women as well as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) have equal opportunities for work on-screen, in other creative categories, and as technicians, crew and support personnel.

On the fight for hair and makeup equity, ACTRA is currently collecting evidence for the upcoming Hair and Makeup Grievance Hearing in May, on the recently launched DEIB Microsite. As National Councillors, we encourage you to share this resource with your colleagues and encourage them to submit their lived experiences so that we can ensure their voices are heard.

Lastly, the murder of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis Police as well as the Monterey Park shooting during Lunar New Year celebrations serve as stark reminders that we must continue to fight to fix a broken system. We share in the collective grief over the senseless loss of lives and reaffirm our commitments to confront injustices in our industry and community. We recognize that events can still be triggering and we encourage members to prioritize their self-care and use their mental health benefits through AFBS, or HAVEN or Calltime Mental Health for UBCP/ACTRA members. 

A stronger, more diverse and equitable Canada requires all of us to advance initiatives that create social equality and economic equity in our communities, our industry and across the Canadian labour movement.

In solidarity,
Eleanor Noble
ACTRA National President