Ginella Massa said her appointment should not be ‘a big deal’, but she acknowledged there was a deep division in Canada and the US
The first woman in a hijab to read the headlines on a mainstream news channel in Canada has said she is thankful to have a career opportunity when there was “so much hate and vilifying of Muslims”.
Ginella Massa, the CityNews anchor in Toronto, told The Hollywood Reporter that her new job was just “a step forward in her career”, but on a national level she acknowledged that it represented a big step forward in terms of ethnic diversity.
When she finished her first 11pm broadcast at midnight last week, her assignment editor asked her: “Was that a first?”
“Yes, I think it was,” she replied.
Ms Massa took to social media to thank the viewers.
“That’s a wrap! Thankful to have opportunities like this at a time when there is so much hate and vilifying of Muslims. Looking forward to the day when it’s no longer a big deal for someone who looks like me to be anchoring a newscast,” she wrote.
Ms Massa, who was also Canada’s first hijab-wearing reporter in January 2015 when she worked for CTV News in Ontario, said she received a deluge of positive comments after writing on Facebook and Twitter.
“People started to go, ‘Wow, that’s amazing that we haven’t already had this in Canada,” she said.
“It shouldn’t be a big deal,” she added.
She admitted that she also received a backlash from a minority of people online, and that she was worried for her friends and family now that Donald Trump had been elected.
“There’s a fear that we will go backwards, that we have made so many strides in terms of acceptance and tolerance and understanding each other. It’s scary to think that all of that can be undone,” she said.
Mr Trump in the US has proposed banning Muslims from entering the US on a temporary basis, carrying out “extreme vetting” and even suggesting Muslims should sign up to a registry.
When asked if she rejected criticism that her Muslim headdress topped her from being impartial as a journalist, she said that everyone had biases.
“That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be in this industry,” she said.
Her appointment comes shortly after the first hijab-wearing reporter on Channel 4 News in the UK, Fatima Manji, was accused of being an “inappropriate” choice of journalist to report on the radical Islamic terrorist attacks in France in July, according to Sun newspaper columnist Kelvin Mackenzie. Ms Manji complained to the press regulator but Mr Mackenzie was cleared of wrongdoing.