Black history is such a monumental part of Canada’s heritage, yet it’s largely overlooked in classrooms when it comes to listing our country’s achievements. When it is acknowledged, it’s almost always within the context of slavery and Underground Railroad. And it certainly hasn’t been explored enough when it comes to our onscreen stories.
The showrunners of the new CBC series The Porter are hoping to change that. Premiering this week, it’s the biggest Black-led TV series in Canada’s history, focusing on North America’s first Black labour union. It shows what challenges the Black community faced in Canada and the U.S. in the 1920s while celebrating the lives, stories, and pivotal-yet-often-ignored achievements of Black train porters.
The series was created by actors Arnold Pinnock and Bruce Ramsay, who both star in the show as well, developed by writer-producers Annmarie Morais, Marsha Greene, and Aubrey Nealon, and directed by executive producers Charles Officer and RT Thorne.
The eight-episode series, filmed in Winnipeg and set in Montreal, aims to reframe Black Canadian history by featuring the fullness and diversity of the Black diaspora—including those who came from the small islands in the Caribbean and made a big impact on Canada and North America.