Telefilm Canada Plans to Overhaul Internal Policies and ‘Abolish Systemic Racism’

Following a storm of criticism over ambiguous diversity and funding criteria, Canadian government funding org Telefilm revealed on Monday an Equity and Representation Action Plan designed to overhaul its internal system.

The plan consists of several action points and strategies to achieve them. To “create a culture of mutual respect, dignity and inclusivity for Canada’s audiovisual industry,” the plan will “review and update existing Telefilm policies through a lens of diversity and inclusion in order to abolish systemic racism.”

In order to engage in ongoing dialogue with underrepresented communities, Telefilm has launched an Equity and Representation Action Committee to align diversity and inclusion efforts across the org. This includes the creation of an internal committee led by E.J. Alon and Kathleen Beaugé (pictured, L-R), which will work in coordination with external stakeholders.

Telefilm is also creating four new positions for Black, Indigenous and People of Color employees: two on the project financing team, one in business affairs, and another in a senior management role reporting to the executive leadership team.

The org has also made a commitment to a minimum 50% representation of new hires across Telefilm from underrepresented identities by 2023 (Black, Indigenous, other Racialized Persons/Visible Minorities, Persons with Disability and LGBTQ2+), and will ensure a minimum of 30% representation of new management hires across Telefilm from underrepresented identities by 2023.

“One of our first steps to further support filmmakers from diverse backgrounds will be the creation of a new stream in our development program dedicated to Racialized Persons/Visible Minorities,” said Christa Dickenson, executive director of Telefilm Canada.

“Telefilm will also prioritize data collection in order to better identify needs, and allow us to better provide more directed funding, and customized initiatives, tailored to support clients that may not have received any financing from Telefilm Canada, or clients who may not have received adequate support to date. As another step in this commitment, we are developing an approach to collect data from recipients of funding from our 2020-2021 fiscal.”

The data collection point could be a direct response to a challenge by BIPOC TV & Film, a grassroots organization and collective of Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Canada’s TV and film industry, which asked Telefilm to supply information on how many Black, Indigenous and People of Color filmmakers and production companies have been granted funding in the past five years and how the money has been distributed (i.e. grants above CAD$500,000, CAD$1.2 million and CAD$2.5 million).

Telefilm responded on July 8, noting that it couldn’t provide detailed information because the data “was not collected.”

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