• Cicely Blain

ByBlacks.com Co-Founder Camille Dundas on Inclusivity and Black Canadian Positivity

Updated: Jul 25, 2019


Misrepresentation, glorification and sensationalism – words that hit too close to home for people of colour, especially when it comes to their depiction (and oftentimes lack thereof) in the media. The continued perpetuation of this bias is one that Camille Dundas aims to dismantle. Co-founded with her husband, Roger Dundas, Camille created ByBlacks.com in direct response to the unsettling media portrayal of Black Canadians. “We’re either portrayed as criminals or as ‘exceptions,’” she explains. “When the truth is, there is Black excellence all around us, every day. We decided to create content that reflected that; positive stories of successful Black business owners, authors, artists, and just anyone doing something amazing with their lives.”

ByBlacks.com is an initiative that celebrates Black Canadians in particular – something that Camille believes is lacking in the current media landscape. “We are a dedicated space to Black Canadian content – exclusively. We felt that Black Canadians often have to look to Black American media outlets for some kind of affinity,” she explains. "And while we of course have close ties to our Black American siblings, we have a unique identity as Blacks in Canada and we wanted to create a space for that. Now, there’s also a glaring issue in Black Canadian media. I’d say 90% of them choose to erase the voices from our Black queer community. ByBlacks is adamantly against this, and we are very loud about the need for any Black community media platform to be open to speaking for all of us, not just some of us.”

Redefining the general public’s opinion of Black Canadians is crucial to the cause. “We are mainly addressing under-representation in the media, and the overwhelming negative slant that happens in mainstream. ByBlacks is an unapologetic stream of Black Canadian positivity. We get so much joy out of shining a light on so many incredible Black Canadians across this nation that are inspiring us all.”

Though as with any media outlet, ByBlacks has experienced its fair share of successes, challenges, and even public backlash. “The main challenge is in securing stable ad revenue, but over the last 7 years we have cemented our status as the number one Black Canadian media platform, and along with two national ethnic media awards that has helped our financial success,” she explains. “On the other hand, we still frequent snide remarks about needing to change our name to make it more ‘palatable’ or ‘comfortable.’ We get this from both white and black people.”

Camille and husband Roger.

Camille’s initiative isn’t just exclusive to uplifting Black Canadians – she hopes her efforts will encourage media outlets to rethink the way they portray other minority groups too. “I think other media organizations should recognize that their relationship with communities of colour have been mainly predatory,” she says. “They use our stories when it is convenient – when it’s sensational or depicts our pain and will get them a lot of clicks. To be truly inclusive is to cover stories not just because they include Black people, but because they are amazing stories that just happen to feature Black people.”

As for the future of ByBlacks? “In December 2019 ByBlacks will launch its second annual People’s Choice Awards. It’s where our readers will get to nominate and vote for their favourite Black Canadian business or personality across the country, in more than 50 categories. We’re so excited because we are adding new categories this year!”

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