Yesterday, Ginella Massa, a news reporter for CityNews in Toronto anchored her first newscast in Canada. Her tweet following this significant milestone in her journalistic career would have been just another job update, only if it weren’t for the historic nature of the event itself.
With that transmission on CityNews, Ginella has become the first hijab-wearing news anchor in Canada. Earlier, Ginella had become Canada’s first hijab-wearing television news reporter in January 2015.
Born in Panama, Ginella came to Canada with her mother when she was 1 year old. She grew up in Toronto and while still very young, converted to Islam from Catholicism.
“I always wanted to work in broadcasting or media in some capacity, and my real desire was to be in front of the camera,” Ginella said in an interview. “But in the back of my mind, I worried about whether I could make it very far in hijab.”
Ginella gives credit for her professional success to her parents, especially to her mother. “My parents always made me believe I could be whatever I wanted. Even when I had my own doubts about making it as a hijabi on TV, my mom always told me that just because it hadn’t been done before, didn’t mean it wasn’t possible. I think they believed I could achieve my goals even before I did.”
Canada has been at the forefront of countries that have embraced pluralism, workplace diversity and employment equity as pragmatic solutions to problems of prejudice, discrimination, and economic inequality. Since decades, diversity has been the cornerstone of Canada’s policy imperative on matters such as national identity, social coherence and economic freedom.
The resulting international reputation has contributed to projecting a humane image of the Canadian society, based on the fundamental socio-political construct that promotes utmost respect for civil liberties, dignity of labor, freedom of expression, and enormous opportunities to explore and nurture an individual’s talents and potential.