Last Friday night, Canada debuted its first first hijab-wearing news anchor on a commercial television broadcast station. “For me, it’s just a step forward in my career,” said Ginella Massa, who filled in a vacant anchor chair at the CityNews network in Toronto this weekend. After the 11pm broadcast ended, Massa’s assignment editor asked, “Was that a first?”
“Yes, I think it was, to have a woman in a hijab anchor the news in Canada,” Massa answered in relation to her headscarf. “It shouldn’t be a big deal.” Massa then proudly made declaration of the opportunity to host the show on social media. “That’s a wrap! Thankful to have opportunities like this at a time when there is so much hate and vilifying of Muslims,” she wrote on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“People started to go, ‘Wow, that’s amazing that we haven’t already had this in Canada,'” Massa revealed to the Hollywood Reporter. “Hatred does exist. I’ve seen it firsthand: on my Twitter timeline, in the comment sections of articles written about me.” Massa accredits this apparent backlash to the election of Donald Trump.
Massa was also Canada’s first hijab-wearing TV reporter for CTV News in January 2015. “At that time, it was overwhelmingly positive,” she says of the experience. “That encouraged me to continue in my career.”
However, Massa believes she will now face criticism and vilification in the U.S. due to Trump winning the presidential election. “I do worry for my friends and my family in the States. I worry about traveling through the States. Because, yes, there’s a head of state who has been very vocal about how he feels about Muslims,” Massa claims.
“If we really want to tap into our diverse communities and tell their stories, then we need to have those people represented,” Massa says of more women wearing hijabs needing to be represented in her career field. “Everyone has biases. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be in this industry.”
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